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Translated by John Russell Spann 


Works Cited in this Study XIII 

Introduction 1 


Chapter I - The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani , 1969 Edition_ 6 

A. The Institutio and the Dogma of the Transubstantiation 6 

B. Number 7 of the Institutio 9 

C . A Propitiatory S acrifice 11 

D. The “Narrative of the Institution” 14 

E. The President of the Assembly 15 

F. Jesus Christ, the Principal Priest ( Sacerdos ) 19 

G. A Tendency to Make the “Liturgy of the Word” Equal to the “Eucharistic Liturgy” 21 

H. Memorial of the Resurrection and Ascension 23 

Chapter II - An Objection: the Institutio also Affirms Traditional Doctrine 25 

A. First Answer: a Rule of Hermeneutics 25 

B. Second Answer: the Contradictory Character of All Heresies 27 

1. Arianism 28 


2. Pelagianism 28 

3. Monothelitism 30 

4. Protestantism 30 

5. Jansenism 31 

6. Modernism 32 

7. The “Anti-Liturgical Heresy” 33 

C. The Third Answer: Neomodernist Metaphysics 34 

D. Conclusion 37 

Chapter III - The New Text of the Mass and the New Rubrics in the Ordo of 1969 38 

A. Prayers Suppressed and Altered 38 

B. New Concept of the Offertory 39 

C. The First Eucharistic Prayer or the Roman Canon 47 

D. The New Eucharistic Prayers 52 

E. The Rite of Communion 55 

F. Other Modifications in the Rubrics 58 

G. Conclusion 63 

Chapter IV - Modifications Introduced in the Ordo of 1969 64 

1. The Principal Features of the Prologue of the Institutio 64 

2. The Priesthood of the People 65 

3. Return to the Norms of the Holy Fathers 68 

4. Do These Errors Not Exist Today? 69 

5. Adaptation to Present-Day Conditions 70 

6. “The Eucharistic Sacrifice Is above All an Action of Christ” 72 

7 . The Language of Modem Theology 73 


8. The Revision of the Institutio 74 

9. Number 7 of the Institutio 75 

10. The Other Numbers which Have Been Modified 77 

11. Modifications in the Fixed Parts of the Mass 80 

12. Conclusion 80 

Chapter V - The New Ordinary of the Mass and the Protestant Supper 81 

A. A Slow and Cautious Reform 81 

B. The Temporizations of Luther 88 

C. A Lutheran Work on the Liturgy 91 

1. The Lutheran Confiteor 93 

2. The Lutheran Offertory 96 

3. The Lutheran Canon 99 

4. Other Aspects of the Lutheran Supper 102 

Appendix - The Infallibility of the Church in the Liturgical Laws 

1. A Thesis which Is Theologically Certain 106 

2. The Church Is Infallible in Matters of Discipline and Liturgy 109 

a. Saint Augustine 110 

b. XVI Council of Carthage 110 

c. Indiculus 110 

d. Saint Thomas Ill 

e. Council of Trent Ill 

f. Sixtus V 112 

g. Saint Robert Bellarmine 112 

h. Pius VI 112 

i. Dublanchy 113 

j. Haegy 113 

k. Pius XI 113 

l. Wemz-Vidal 114 

m. Pius XII 114 

3. A Thesis to Be Considered in Its Nuances 114 

4. Hesitations and Restrictive Expressions in Testimonies of Tradition 115 


a. Melchior Cano 116 

b. Suarez 116 

c. Father Gabriel Vasquez 117 

d. Father Francisco Antonius Zaccaria 117 

e. Dom Gueranger 117 

f. D. Bouix 117 

g. Pius IX 119 

h. Pesch 119 

i. Hurter 119 

j. Lercher 119 

k. Herve 120 

l. Father Goupil 120 

m. Father Cartechini 121 

n. Iragui 121 

o. Liturgical feasts 121 

5. Conditions under Which Liturgical Laws Involve Infallibility 124 

a. C. Callewaert 124 

b. Father P. Oppenheim 125 

c. Father Manuel Pinto 129 

d. Father C. Vagaggini 135 

6. The New Missal and the Infallibility of the Church 139 


Chapter I - The Five Opinions Dealing with the Hypothesis of a Pope Heretic 

Expounded by Saint Robert Bellarmine 143 

Synoptic Outline of the Opinions about the Theological Hypothesis of a Pope Heretic 145 

Chapter II - First Opinion: God Will Never Permit That the Pope Fall Into Heresy 146 

A. Nuances within this First Opinion 147 

B. Arguments Contrary to this Opinion 148 

1. Sacred Scripture 148 

2. Tradition 148 

a. Documents Referring to Pope Honorius 148 

b. During the Pontificate of Pascal II 150 


c. From Gratian to Our Days 153 

C. The Answer of the Defenders of this Opinion 154 

D. A Merely Probable Opinion 154 

Chapter III - Second Opinion - Falling into Heresy, Even Though Merely Internally, 

the Pope Loses Ipso Facto the Pontificate 156 

a. In favor of this Opinion 156 

b. The Reasons that Militate Against this Second Opinion 156 

c. An Opinion Abandoned Today 157 

Chapter IV - The Third Opinion - Even Though He Falls into Notorious Heresy 

the Pope Never Loses the Pontificate 158 

Chapter V - Fourth Opinion - The Pope Heretic Only Effectively Loses the Pontificate 

upon the Intervention of an Act Declaratory of His Heresy 161 

1. Defense of this Opinion by Suarez 161 

2. Refutation of this Opinion by Saint Robert Bellarmine 164 

Chapter VI - Fifth Opinion - Falling into Manifest Heresy, the Pope Loses 

the Pontificate Ipso Facto 168 

1. Defense of this Opinion by Saint Robert Bellarmine 168 

2. Defense of this Opinion by Father Pietro Ballerini 169 

3. Subdivision of this Fifth Opinion 170 

4. Evaluation of this Opinion 171 

Chapter VII - In Defense of the Fifth Opinion Enumerated by Saint Robert Bellarmine 172 

1. Possibility of a Pope Heretic 172 

2 . Incompatibility In Radice 172 


3. The Jurisdiction of the Heretic 173 

4. The Central Question 173 

5. The Necessity of a Declaration Is Excluded 175 

6. The Degree of Notoriety and Divulgation 175 

7. Conclusion 175 

Chapter VIII - The Schismatic Pope and the Dubious Pope 177 

A. The Hypothesis of a Schismatic Pope 179 

1. Suarez 179 

2. Cardinal Joumet 180 

3. Cardinal John de Torquemada 181 

4. A Schismatic Pope Would Lose the Pontificate 182 

B. The Hypothesis of a Dubious Pope 183 

1. A Dubious Pope Is a Null Pope 183 

2. Declaration by a Council 184 

3. Pacific and Universal Acceptance 185 

4. The Election of a Person who Cannot Be Pope 186 

Chapter IX - Can There Be Error in the Documents of the Pontifical or Conciliar Magisterium? 188 

1. Possibility of Error in Episcopal Documents 188 

2. A Definition of Vatican 1 189 

3. Suspension of Internal Assent 189 

a. Diekamp 190 

b. Pesch 190 

c. Merkelbach 190 

d. Hurter 191 

e. Cartechini 191 

4. There Are those who Do Not Admit the Suspension of Internal Assent 191 


5. There Are those Who Deny the Possibility of Error in Non-Infallible Documents 192 

6. Conclusion 193 

Chapter X - Can There Be Heresy in Documents of the Pontifical or Conciliar Magisterium? 195 

1. A Hasty Answer 195 

2. A Forgotten Hypothesis 197 

3. A Gap which Has Already Been Noted 199 

4. A Hypothesis which Still Stands 201 

Chapter XI - Public Resistance to Decisions of Ecclesiastical Authority 202 

A. Bishops and Lower Ecclesiastical Euthorities 202 

a. Dom Gueranger 202 

b. Herve 203 

c. D. Antonio de Castro Mayer 203 

B. “I Resisted Him to His Face, Because He Merited Reprehension” 203 

a. Saint Thomas Aquinas 204 

b. Vitoria 205 

c. Suarez 205 

d. Saint Robert Bellarmine 206 

e. Cornelius a Lapide 206 

f. Wernz- Vidal 206 

g. Peinador 207 

C. A Divergence which We Consider Only Apparent 207 

D. The Respectful Silence Appears to Be Always Required 208 

a. Straub 208 

b. Merkelbach 209 

c. Mors 209 

d. Zalba 209 

E. Two Enlightening Examples 210 


1. Apparent Condemnation of Private Property 210 

2. Apparent Condemnations of All and Every Loan for Interest 211 

F. Resolving an Apparent Disagreement 212 




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Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1969; et in “Missale Romanum”, typ. Polygl. Vat., 1970. 

PAUL VI, - Allocution to the general audience of November 19, 1969 - in Insegnamenti di Paolo VI , 
Polyglotta Vaticana, vol. VII, 1969, pp. 1121-1126. 

PAUL VI, - Allocution to the general audience of November 26, 1969 - in L'Osservatore Romano, 
weekly edition in french, December 5, 1969, p. 12. 

(PAUL VI) - Institutio Genercdis Missalis Romani - of the Consilium Pontificium ad Exsequendam 
Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia - Editio typica, titled Ordo Missae, Polygl. Vat., 1969; 1970 edition, 
in Misscde Romanum , Typ. Polygl. Vat., 1970. 


(PAUL VI) - “Instruction for the translation of the liturgical texts for celebration with the people”, 
January 25, 1969 - of the “Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia” - in Notitiae , 
n. 44, pp. 3-12. 

(PAUL VI) - Instruction of October 20, 1969, on the gradual execution of the Apostolic Constitution 
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vols. 749-752. 

PEGUES, O. P., T. - Article in the Revue Thomiste, November-December 1904, p. 531 - apud Choupin, 
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PENIDO, M. Teixeira-Leite - O Misterio dos Sacramentos - Vozes, Petropolis, 1961. 

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PIUS XI - Bull Inter Miltiplices , on the Braga Missal - apud M. Pinto, “O Valor. . p. 240. 

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PIUS XII - Allocution of September 22, 1956, to the participants in the International Congress of the 
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Royalty of Our Lady - A. A. S., 1954, pp. 666-667. 

(PIUS XII) - Instruction of the Holy Office on Sacred Art, July 30, 1952 - A. A. S., 1952, pp. 542-546. 

(PIUS XII) - Instruction of February 20, 1950, which modifies the rubrics of the Pontificals Romanum - 
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POZO, S. J., Candido - El Credo del Pueblo de Dios - B.A.C., Madrid, 1968. 

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REGATILLO, S. J. Eduardus F. - Institutiones Iuris Canonici - Sal Terrae; Santander, 2 vols., 1961. 

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RENWART, S. J., L. - Review of the book O Valor Teologico da Liturgia, by Father M. Pinto - in 
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REVISTA ECLES1AST1CA BRASILEIRA - Review of the book O Valor Teologico da Liturgia , by Father 
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RILLIET, Jean - Zwingle, le Troisieme Homme de la Reforme, 1959, apud La Contre-Reforme 
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RIVIERE, J. - Article “Messe” - in Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique . 

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tome XV, 1844. 


SAINT ALPHONSE LIGUORI - Oeuvres Dogmatiques, trad. Vidal-Delalle-Bousquet - Parent- 
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SAINT AUGUSTINE - Epistola 55 - PL 33, 204-233. 

SAINT AUGUSTINE - Sermo 293 - PL 38, 1327-1335. 

SAINT BRUNO OF SEGNI - “S. Brunonis Episcopi Signiensis Epistolae” - PL 165, 1 139: Letter to the 
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SAINT BRUNO OF SEGNI - “S. Brunonis Episcopi Signiensis Epistolae” - PL 165, 1 139: Letter to the 

Bishops of 


SAINT BRUNO OF SIGNI - Letter to Paschal II - PL 163, 463. 

(SAINT CELESTINE 1) - On the Indiculus, erroneously attributed to Saint Celestine; see: Prosper of 

SAINT IGNATIUS LOYOLA - Exercicios Espirituais , Portuguese Translation by Father B. P. Rambo, 
S. J. - Tipografia do Centro, Porto Alegre, 1938. 

SAINT IVES OF CHARTES - Epistola 233 - PL 162, 235-236. 

SAINT IVES OF CHARTES - Epistola 236, of Saint Ives of Chartres and other bishops to the 
Archbishop of Lyon - PL 162, 238 ff. 

SAINT IVES OF CHARTES - Decretum, pars V, cap. 23 - PL 161, 329-330. 

SAINT JEROME - Expos, in Epist. ad Titum, c. IE, v. 11 - PL 26, 598, apud Congar, article “Schisme”, 
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SAINT LEO THE GREAT - Ep. 129, c. 2, apud Saint Thomas Aquinas, II-E, 11, 2, 2. 

SAINT LEO II - Letter Cum Diversa Sint, to the Bishops of Spain - Denz.-Sch. 561. 

SAINT LEO II - Letter Cum unus exstet, to Erwig, King of Spain - Denz.-Sch. 561. 

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1965, 2 nd . Edition. 

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e conciliares?” - in Catolicismo, n. 202. October, 1967. 

XAVIER DA SILVEIRA, Arnaldo Vidigal - “Nao so a heresia pode ser condenada pela autoridade 
eclesiastica” - in Catolicismo, n. 203, November, 1967. 


XAVIER DA SILVEIRA, Arnaldo Vidigal - “Atos, gestos, atitudes e omissoes podem caracterizar o 
herege” - in Catolicismo, n 204, December, 1967. 

XAVIER DA SILVEIRA, Amaldo Vidigal - “Respondendo a objecoes de um imaginario leitor 
progressista” - in Catholicismo, n 206, February, 1968. 

XAVIER DA SILVEIRA, Amaldo Vidigal - “Pode um Catolico rejeitar a Humanae Vitae? ” - in 
Catolicismo, n 212/214, August/October, 1968. 

XAVIER DA SILVEIRA, Arnaldo Vidigal - “Pode haver erro em documentos do Magisterio?” - in 
Catolicismo , n 223, July, 1969. 

XAVIER DA SILVEIRA, Amaldo Vidigal - “Resistencia publica a decisoes da autoridade eclesiastica” 
- in Catolicismo n 224, August, 1969. 

ZACCARIA, S. J., Franciscus Antonius - De Usu Librorum Liturgicorum in Rebus Theologicis - in 
Theologiae Cursus Completus, Migne, Parisiis, tom. V., 1860 cols. 207-310. 

ZALBA, S. J., Marcellino - Theologiae Moralis Compendium - B.A.C., Matriti, 2 vols., 1958. 

* * * 

CATOLICISMO - Monthly of Catholic Culture published under the auspices of D. Antonio de Castro 
Mayer, Bishop of Campos. 

LATIN PATROLOGY, Migne - Abbreviation: PL. 

LITURGIA DA MISSA - Edicoes Paulinas, Sao Paulo, 1969. 

LITURGIA LUTERANA - Publication authorized by the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil” - 
Casa Publicadora Concordia, Porto Alegre. 

MISSALE ROMANUM - Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1970. 

NOTITIAE - Semi-official organ of the “Consilium Pontificium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de 
Sacra Liturgia”. 

O NOVO CATEC1SMO - Brazilian edition of the Dutch Catechism - Herder, Sao Paulo, 1969. 

O NOVO ORDO MISSAE - Vozes, Petropolis, 4 edicao, 1969. 

ORDINARIO DA MISSA - Prepared by the National Secretariat for the Liturgy of the National 
Conference of Bishops of Brazil according to the typical edition of the Ordo Missae - Vozes, Petropolis, 


ORDINARIO DE LA MISA - Various publishers, Madrid, 1969. 

ORDO MISSAE , 1969 edition - Editio typica, typia polyglottis Vaticanis, 1969. 
ORDO MISSAE , 1970 edition - in Missale Romanum, Typ. Polygl. Vat., 1970. 
PRESBITERAL - Vozes, Petropolis, 1969. 



An attentive consideration of contemporary events obliges one to recognize that the Holy Father John 
XXIII was entirely right on saying that it is an antidecalogue which directs the action of men and 
societies in our days. The most serious aspect of this situation is that now, as in the time of the 
Modernism condemned by Saint Pius X, “The forgers of errors hide themselves in the bosom and in the 
very flock of the Church” (Encyclical Pascendi). This is what Paul VI pointed out in declaring, in a 
pithy expression which immediately became famous, that the Holy Church seems to be involved in a 
process of “autodemolition” carried out by her own children. 

In the midst of this generalized movement of disintegration, faithful souls turn, as it were 
instinctively, to the Chair of Peter, in search of clear and energetic direction, that will put an end to the 
follies which are spreading in Catholic circles. To him who is the “sweet Christ on Earth” (Saint 
Catherine of Siena), and separate from whom there are no words of eternal life, Catholics direct the 
appeal with which the chosen people implored Jephte to lead them in the fight against the Ammonites: 
“Come and be our chief’ (Judges 11, 6). 

However, disturbing surprises and perplexities seem to cloud the hope that animates those who, 
like us, are unconditionally devoted to the Roman Pontificate. On the occasion of the entrance into 
force of the new Ordo Missae , for example, figures among the most eminent of the Hierarchy, among 
theologians, and among the laity, declared that the new liturgy of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is 
unacceptable. These pronouncements not only became public, but they even occupied outstanding 
positions in the principal organs of the mass media. In as much as the Holy Mass is related to the 
everyday piety of the fervent Catholic, at the same time as it is representative of that which is most 
sacred in the Church, the polemic about the new Ordo takes on an immediate and transcendental 
interest, and in practice, is fraught with dramatic consequences for each and every son of the Holy 

* * * 

Moved by the preoccupation to clear up the anguishing doubts about the principle of authority in the 
Church, which in recent years have troubled numerous faithful spirits, we have for a long time been 
studying doctrinal questions related with the present-day crisis in the Church. Thus it was that we wrote 
in Catolicismo, a monthly on culture published under the aegis of the eminent Bishop of Campos, D. 
Antonio de Castro Mayer, divers articles about the ecclesiastical Magisterium and other themes of a 
dogmatic, moral and canonical order (1). 

(1) The articles published in Catolicismo are: 

• “Qual a autoridade doutrinaria dos documentos pontificos e conciliares?” (What is the doctrinal authority of 
pontifical and conciliar documents?”) - n. 202, October 1967. 

• “Nao so a heresia pode ser condenada pela authoridade eclesiastica” (Not only heresy can be condemned 
by ecclesiastical authority”) - n. 203, November 1967. 

• “Atos, gestos, atitudes e omissoes podem caracterizar o herege” (Acts, gestures, attitudes and omissions can 
characterize the heretic) - n.204, December 1967. 

• “Respondendo a objecoes de urn imaginario leitor progressista” (Answering the objections of an imaginary 
progressivist reader) n. 206, February 1968. 

• “Pode urn Catolico rejeitar a Humanae Vitae?" (Can a Catholic reject Humanae Vitae?) n. 212/214, 
August/October 1968. 

• “Pode haver erro em documentos do Magisterio?” (Can documents of the Magisterium contain any error?) n. 
223, July 1969. 

• “Resistencia publica a decisoes da authoridade eclesiastica” (Public resistance to decisions of ecclesiastical 
authority) n. 224, August 1969. 


Since the promulgation of the New Mass, we have been studying it in detail, and we feel ourselves 
obligated to express in writing some conclusions to which this study has led us. Such is the objective of 
this work. 

* * * 

On presenting an analysis of the Orclo of Paul VI, it seemed indispensable to us to examine an 
objection which could be formulated against one who wished to question the orthodoxy of a pontifical 
act. The objection would be the following: granted the divine promises made to Saint Peter and his 
successors, it is absurd even to raise the hypothesis that a papal act be in any degree susceptible to 
reservations as to its orthodoxy. 

Thus it becomes indispensable to present here, after the examination of the New Mass (Part I), an 
analysis of another problem treated abundantly by theologians and canonists in the course of the 
centuries, and which we have been studying for some years - the theological hypothesis of a Pope 
falling into heresy (Part II). Together with this question, we shall consider some others which are 
connected to it: the hypotheses of a dubious Pope and of a schismatic Pope, the possibility of error and 
heresy in documents of the Magisterium, the right of public resistance in the event of iniquitous 
decisions of the Ecclesiastical Authority, etc. 

* * * 

We wish right now to emphasize that we do not write these lines in a “contestatarian” spirit. We 
are not moved, in any manner, by any intention of questioning the principle of authority in the Holy 
Church. On the contrary, it is in defense of Catholic unity itself, and of the supreme authority of the 
Church - Jesus Christ, of Whom the Pope is Vicar on earth - that we make the present considerations on 
the new Ordo Missae , as well as on the hypothesis of the defection of a Pope in the Faith. 

We feel besides perfectly willing to analyze - in scientific and always respectful terms - what is 
the measure in which, according to Theology and Canon Law , determinate papal acts effectively oblige: 
for the defense of the principle of authority was always one of the supreme rules which guided the action 
both of Catolicismo (with which we have collaborated from its first years) and of the Brazilian Society 
for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, to whose National Council we have the honor to 

In other words: if one understands by “contestation” the action whereby an inferior refuses due 
obedience to a superior, offending against the principle of authority in any one of its aspects, we find 
ourselves in exactly the opposite extreme from “contestation”. We have the most fiery love and the 
most ardent enthusiasm for the pontifical primacy and for the principle of authority in general. We 
would never even have raised the problems studied here, if we did not have the sure precedent of Saints 
and Doctors - as Saint Paul, Saint Leo II, Saint Ives of Chartes, Saint Bruno of Segni, Saint Godfrey of 
Amiens, Saint Hugo of Grenoble, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Robert Bellarmine and so 


many others - who have taught us, by word and act, that one must not accompany an authority if it 
should happen to depart from the right way. Therefore, following the steps of so many and such great 
Doctors, we do not “contest”, in any sense any ecclesiastical authority, but we are trying to determine in 
what measure one can or one must, according to the most genuine teachings of the Church , accept the 
new Ordo Missae. 


The matter contained in this volume was originally published in Portuguese in three independent 
studies: “Consideracoes sobre o Ordo Missae de Paulo VI” (1), Sao Paulo, Brazil, June, 1970 XX-169 
pp., Modificacoes Introduzida no Ordo de 1969” (2), Sao Paulo, Brazil, August, 1970, 20 pp.; and “A 
Infalibilidade das Leis Eclesiasticas” (3), Sao Paulo, Brazil, January, 1971, XI-34 pp. 

For this edition the author united the three studies in one single work without however altering 
their original content in any way. 

Chapter IV of Part I contains the study “Modificacoes Introduzidas no Ordo de 1969”; and the 
appendix of Part I contains the material published in “A Infalibilidade das Leis Eclesiasticas”, 
everything else which appears here was originally contained in “Consideracoes sobre o Ordo Missae de 
Paulo VI”. 

(1) “Considerations on the Ordo Missae of Paul VI”. 

(2) “Modifications Introduced in the Ordo of 1969”. 

(3) “The Infallibility of Ecclesiastical Laws”. 





The 3 of April 1969, Paul VI published the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanian (1), which 
promulgated two important documents related to the reform of the rite of the Mass. 

Those documents are the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Order of the Roman Missal) and 
the new Ordo Missae (2) properly so called, that is, the new text of the Mass with the rubrics which 
accompany it. 

* * * 

The Apostolic Constitution explains that the traditional Mass of the Roman rite dates from St. 
Gregory the Great, having been modified in accidental points by St. Pius V, in 1570, in accord with the 
decrees of the Council of Trent. It recounts the recent alterations which have been introduced into the 
liturgy and declares that the reform of the Mass now established has in view the fulfillment of the 
decisions of Vatican II. That reform - says the Pope - was not improvised, but is the result of a long 
and careful study. The Apostolic Constitution indicates further the principle alterations introduced, and 
finally promulgates the Institutio Generalis and the new Ordo Missae , which thus come to enjoy papal 
authority. These two documents entered into force on the first Sunday of Advent, that is, the 30 th of 
November of 1969. 

* * 

The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (3) was prepared by the “Pontifical Commission for the 
Application of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (4). In accord with what we have just indicated, 
the Pope gave to that Institutio the character and the authority of a pontifical document. It consists of 
341 items in which the new rites are minutely explained, at the same time that theoretical and practical 
principles are established for the Eucharistic celebration. 

* * * 

In relation to the liturgical movement which developed during the pontificate of Pius XII, Paul VI writes 
in the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum : 

“(...) once the liturgical movement began to grow and to spread among the Christian people - that 
movement which according to the expression of Pius XII our predecessor of venerable memory - ought 
to be considered a sign of a providential disposition for our time, a salutary passage of the Holy Spirit 
through his Church - it became very 

(1) The citations of this Apostolic Constitution and of the documents which were promulgated by it in 1969 will be 
made on the basis of the typical edition: Ordo Missae , Typis Polygl. Vat., 1969, 172 pp. 

(2) Ordo Missae signifies, in its broad sense, “the ordering of the Mass”; in this acceptation, it includes the fixed 
parts of the Mass, the variable parts and all the laws and rubrics referring to the celebration. 

In its strict sense, the expression is generally employed only to indicate the fixed parts of the Mass. It will be only 
in this latter acceptation that will refer to the Ordo Missae. 

On the other hand, since the Latin formula has always been current among us - as in all the West - we shall use 
the expression Ordo Missae and its vernacular translation “Ordinary of the Mass” indifferently. We shall also 
employ the abbreviated Latin form Ordo. 

(3) We shall call this document Institutio. 

(4) “Consilium Pontificium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia”. - It is an organ of the Holy See 
in charge of, as the very name says, laying down norms for the applications of the Constitution Sacrosanctum 
Concilium, on the Sacred Liturgy, of the Second Vatican Council. 


clear that the formulae of the Roman Missal had to be restored and enriched. Our predecessor, Pius XII, 
initiated this reform (...)(!). 

The fact that Paul VI, on referring to the liturgical movement of the time of Pius XII, said absolutely 
nothing about the very grave doctrinal errors, which infected large sectors of that movement seems to us 
worthy of attention. Indeed, the magnificent liturgical innovation initiated in the XIX Century by the 
Benedictine Abbot of Solesmes, Dom Gueranger was later turned away from its true end, in many of its 
followers, meriting for this reason, various censures by Pius XII. The most grave of these was the 
Encyclical Mediator Dei , in which were proscribed precisely many of the errors which now have entered 
into the official legislation, through the new Ordo Missae (2). 

It is also to be noted that the very document of Pius XII to which Paul VI refers here (3) warns 
the faithful once again against various liturgical deviations which had already been pointed out during 

the pontificate of Pius XII himself (4). 

* * * 

The text of the New Mass, promulgated April 3, 1969, underwent various modifications on the occasion 
of the publication of the new Missal in May, 1970. 

In the present work, we shall study in separate chapters the text of 1969 and the modifications 
introduced in 1970 (5). We proceed in this manner because we judge, on the basis of reasons which 
shall be enumerated in detail in the course of our exposition (6), that only someone who knows the 

original 1969 text can pronounce over the 1970 text of the New Mass. 

* * * 

- In Chapter I we shall study the 1969, edition of the Institutio referring whenever necessary or 
convenient, to the places in the following chapters where we indicate the modifications which the parts 
we treat eventually underwent. 

- In Chapter II we shall take up an objection which could be made to that which was said 
previously, that is: that the Institutio also affirms the traditional doctrine, and that as a consequence the 
criticisms which we formulate in Chapter I are completely lacking in solid foundation. 

- In Chapter III we shall consider the Ordo of 1969, also referring when appropriate, to the 
passages in which we study the modifications of 1970. 

- In Chapter IV (7) we shall present a brief study of the modifications introduced in 1970. 

- In Chapter V we shall analyze as present some salient features of the Lutheran Liturgy. 

In the Appendix to Part I we shall consider another objection which can be made to that which 
was affirmed in the preceding items: granted that the Church is always infallible in the promulgation of 
universal laws, it is a priori absurd to doubt the orthodoxy of the new text of the Mass. 

(1) Op. Cit. Pp. 7-8. 

(2) On the condemnations contained in Mediator Dei see also the Carta Pastoral sobre Problemas do Apostolado Moderno, 

D. Antonio de Castro Maver . Bishop of Campos. 

(3) Allocution of September 22, 1956; to the International Congress of he Pastoral Liturgy, met in Assisi - A. A. S., 1956, pp. 711-725. 

(4) Encyclical Mediator Dei', Allocution of November 2, 1954; Instruction of the Holy Office on Sacred Art, June 30, 1952. 

(5) The 1 970 texts of the Institutio and the Ordo will be cited directly from the “Missale Romanum”, Typ. Polygl. Vat., 1 970, 966 pp. 

(6) See the observations which we make about the efforts of the organs of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship to deny the 
existence of doctrinal deviations in the Institutio and the Ordo of 1969 (pp. 74-75); and about their preoccupation in maintaining that the 
modifications of 1970 did not correct anything in the previous text but only further elucidated that which was already doctrinally irreprehensible 
(pp. 75); about the temporizations and the strategic withdrawals of Luther (pp. 81-91); about the tendencies of the Protestant liturgy in recent 
decades (pp. 91-105); about the contradictions which characterized the heterodox movements of every epoch (pp. 27-34); etc. 

(7) Translator’s note - in the original of Consideracoes sobre o Ordo Missae de Paulo VI, Chapter IV contains a study of the errors of 
translation in the Portuguese version of the New Mass, many of them of very grave doctrinal import. We suppress that chapter here as not 
being of great interest to the English speaking reader. We cannot fail to observe, however, that the Portuguese version is not the only one 
which frequently falls into deviations subject to grave censure from a doctrinal point of view, To our knowledge there has not yet been made a 
systematic comparative study of the various vernacular texts of the new Mass; such a study, which is very much to be desired, would certainly 
reveal a general tendency meriting serious reservations. 



The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, 1969 Edition 

In analyzing here some items of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, edition of 1969 (1), we 
do not intend to study it exhaustively. We shall make only those observations necessary to enable the 
reader, in the light of traditional Catholic doctrine, to form a judgement about that document (2). 

Together with our observations, we shall present some commentaries on the Institutio made by 
four Spanish authors in the work Nuevas Normas cle la Misa (New Norms for the Mass) (3). It is the 
first systematic explanation of the new Ordo which has appeared among us. It has had for this reason a 
great distribution, all the more so since the book is part of the very well known collection “Biblioteca de 
Autores Cristianos - B.A.C. (Library of Christian Authors), organized by eminent figures among 
Spanish theologians. 

This work, inspired by the most extreme neo-modernism, contains affirmations which depart 
completely from Catholic doctrine, as we shall indicate further on. The fact that the diffusion of 
publications such as this is permitted, reveals that there is no intention to shut off the road to such 
interpretations of the new Ordo. 

This being the case, we shall not occupy ourselves with the aforementioned book of the B.A.C. 
only on account of the evil which it itself can do, but above all because its free and ample distribution in 
Catholic circles shows in what sense the Institutio and the new Ordo are being interpreted. 

A. The Institutio and the Dogma of the Transubstantiation 

In the whole document, one does not find one single time the word “transubstantiation”. Neither 
does it speak even one time of the “real 

(1) In this Chapter I we shall study some aspects, above all of a doctrinal character, of this document, leaving to 
be analyzed together with the Ordo of 1969, in Chapter III (pp. 38 ff.), certain practical dispositions of the Institutio 
which constitute true rubrics. In chapter II (pp. 25 ff.), we will consider an objection that has been frequently 
raised against the restrictions that have been made to the new Mass. 

(2) We want to note here that the promulgation of the New Mass does not involve the infallibility of the Church. 
As this question has complex and delicate aspects, we shall treat ex professo the problem of infallibility of the 
Church in her liturgical laws in an appendix (pp. 106). 

(3) By J. M. Martin Patino , A. Pardo , A. Iniesta and P. Fames ; Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (B.A.C.), Madrid, 
1969, 304 pp. - The work whose first edition is dated June 1969, was already in its eighth edition in November of 
the same year. - Father Jose Maria Martin Patino, S. J. , whose name heads the list of authors - consultor of the 
“Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia” - is secretary of both the Spanish Liturgical 
Commission and the Mixed Episcopal Commission Celam-Spain (C. E. M.), in charge of preparing the Spanish 
translations of the liturgical texts (Notitiae, 1966, p.200; 1967, p. 26). - As far as the other three authors of the 
Nuevas Normas de la Misa, we could not find out if they were consultants of the Consilium at the time, because of 
the difficulty there is in obtaining a complete list of such consultants, whose number reached, in 1966, two 
hundred (see Notitiae, 1966, p. 345). 

For greater convenience, we shall indicate this book as the “commentary of the B.A.C.” on the Institutio, and its 
authors as “the commentators of the B.A.C.”. 

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE - Father Martin Patino was recently named consultant of the Sacred Congregation for 
Divine Worship. 


presence” of Christ in the Eucharist (1). There are, undoubtedly, many references with divers terms and 
expressions, to the “presence” of Our Lord; but with such terms and expressions the Institutio indicates 
indiscriminately the presence of Jesus in the words of the Scripture, in the Eucharist, among those who 
are united in his name, etc. Here are some significant texts (2): 

Number 1: “(In the Mass) the mysteries of the Redemption are remembered in the course of the 
year, in such a way that they become in some way PRESENT”. 

Number 9: “When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the church, God himself speaks to his 
people, and CHRIST, PRESENT IN HIS WORD, announces the Gospel”. 

Number 28: “On terminating the entrance hymn, the priest and all the assembly make the sign of the 
cross. Immediately afterwards the priest, by means of a salutation, manifests to the assembly united the 
PRESENCE of the Lord (... )”. 

Number 33: “(...) In the readings, which the homily explains, God speaks to his people, reveals 
the mystery of redemption and of salvation, and offers spiritual nourishment; and Christ Himself by his 
word BECOMES PRESENT in the midst of the faithful (...)”. 

Number 35: “the greatest veneration should be paid to the reading of the Gospel. This is what 
the liturgy itself teaches, since it surrounds it with special honour, more than that which it gives to the 
other readings: on the part of the minister (...); on the part of the faithful, recognizing and professing by 
means of acclamations CHRIST PRESENT WHO SPEAKS TO THEM, and also in hearing the reading 
itself standing; as well as by the signs of veneration (...)”. 

Number 48: “The last Supper, in which Christ instituted the memorial of his death and resurrection, 
UNCEASINGLY BECOMES PRESENT IN THE CHURCH when the priest, representing Christ the 
Lord, does the same as the Lord Himself did and recommended to the disciples that they should do (. . .). 

(...) In the eucharistic prayer thanks are given to God for the whole work of salvation, and THE 

(...) by communion the faithful receive the Body and Blood of the Lord in the same manner as 
the Apostles from the hands of Christ Himself’ (4). 

Number 60: “(...) When (the priest) celebrates the Eucharist, he ought to serve God and the 
people with dignity and humility, and SUGGEST TO THE FAITHFUL THE LIVING PRESENCE 

(1) On the manner in which the expressions “transubstantiation” and “real presence” appear in the new text of the 
Institutio, promulgated in 1970, see pp. 65, 69-70, 75, 214-215. 

(2) In the citations which follow the capitals are ours. 

(3) As we shall show further on, the affirmation that, “the offerings become the Body and Blood of Christ”, is also 
admitted by Protestants, since it does not necessarily involve the Catholic thesis of the transubstantiation (see pp. 
100 and 104). Similar expressions appear various times in the Institutio (see, for example, number 49, 55, 56). 

(4) This item of the Institutio was modified in 1970. We point out and comment upon the new text on page 77. 


OF CHRIST, in his comportment and his manner of saying the divine words (. . (1). 

In Number 241, the only item in which the Institutio, in the 1969 edition, refers to the Council of 
Trent, we read: 

“(...) Above all, (the sacred pastors) should make it clear to the faithful that the Catholic faith 
teaches that also under a single species IS RECEIVED CHRIST WHOLE AND ENTIRE and the true 

In Number 55 of the Institutio explains the divers parts of the Canon - now called the 
“Eucharistic Prayer”. In respect to the Consecration (item “d”), we read there the following: 

“The narrative of the institution: in this part with words and actions of Christ that last Supper becomes 
present again ( repraesentatur ) in which Christ the Lord Himself Instituted the sacrament of the Passion 
and Resurrection giving the Apostles his Body and Blood to eat and drink under the appearances of 
bread and wine, and commanding them that they perpetuate the same mystery.” (2). 

The Latin term repraesentatur is translated, in the version of the Publishing House Vozes, which 
we have just cited (3), by “He becomes present again”. Without doubt the word also has this sense. But 
it also has another sense as the translator knew, putting for this reason, in parentheses the Latin term. 
This other sense would be “is represented”, and it would give to the text a very strong Protestant flavour, 
for the Mass is not a simple representation, rather it is a true renovation of the sacrifice of Our Lord. 

Furthermore, note that the Institutio does not say, in this item, that Christ becomes present again 
(repraesentatur), but it says that the Last Supper is represented in this part of the Mass (4). 

On the other hand, the affirmation which follows, that Our Lard gives his Body and Blood to eat, 
under the appearances of bread and wine, en riqueur, is acceptable by the Protestants. They deny the 
transubstantiation - that is true - and here is the true watershed between Catholics and Protestants (5); 
but this word is not part of the document of the Liturgical Commission. 

* * * 

- The absence of the term “transubstantiation” in the primitive text of the Institutio is incomprehensible 
(6). In 1786 there met in Pistoia a Jansenist synod, which approved various propositions in relation to 
the Eucharist. In these they spoke however of the “real presence” and even admitted the full cessation 
of the substances of the bread and the wine in the consecrated species. But they did not use the word 
“transubstantiation”. This omission was condemned by Pius VI in 1794 as 

(1) Although number 60 has been modified in the 1970 text of the Institutio (see pp. 78-79), the item cited here has not been altered. 

(2) This number of the Institutio was modified in 1970; on pp. 78. We comment upon the new text. 

(3) “O Novo Ordo Missae ” - Vozes, Petropolis, 4 edicao, 1969, 64 pp. 

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE - The Publishing House Vozes to which the author refers, is one of the principle Catholic publishing houses of Brazil. 
The pamphlet cited here, “O Novo Ordo Missae ” was the first and largest Brazilian edition of the Institutio, having had at least four editions in 
1969 alone. 

(4) One cannot object that The Council of Trent (Denz.-Sch. 1740) also taught that Our Lord instituted a sacrifice by which the sacrifice of 
the Cross would be represented (repraesentaretur). For in the context of the Tridentine definition - in opposition to the Institutio - it becomes 
clear that it is not a question of a mere symbolic representation. It is enough to consider, for example, the first canon on the Mass: “If anyone 
says that in the Mass true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God, or that Christ offering Himself is no more than giving Himself to us as food 
- let him be anathema” (Denz.-Sch. 1751). 

(5) On the position of the Protestants in relation to this, see pp. 82, 1 04. 

(6) One cannot allege, in defense of the Institutio, that the introductory documents of the traditional Missal did not employ the word 
“transubstantiation” either. For those documents are mere expositions of the rubrics, with no doctrinal character whatever, while the Institutio 
is unquestionably a doctrinal document, in spite of the declarations to the contrary made recently by Father Bugnini . secretary of the 
Commission charged with the Vatican (we cite and comment upon this declarations on p.10). Indeed, a summary comparison between the 
introductory documents of the traditional Missal and the Institutio is enough to verify the doctrinal character of the latter and the merely 
normative character of the former. In this respect, see also the declaration made by the semi-official magazine of the Liturgical Commission, 
Notitiae (1968, p. 181), which we cite in note 2 of p. 10. 


“pernicious, prejudicial to the exposition of the Catholic truth about the dogma of transubstantiation. and 
favorable to heretics” (1). Pius VI had declared furthermore that one could not consider the word 
“transubstantiation” a mere technical expression of the School, but that it absolutely must be used in the 
exposition of the mystery of the real presence (2). 

Now, if the omission of the word “transubstantiation” was an error favoring heresy at the end of 
the XVIII Century, this same error would merit today an even more serious censure. Indeed, granted 
that in our days there are those who try to replace the notion of transubstantiation by concepts which are 
theologically inacceptable, such as those of “transfinalization” [“transfiguracao”, “transignificacao” e 
“transfinalizacao”] (3), the silence which the Institutio, in the edition of 1969 maintains in respect to 
transubstantiation is worthy of no light censure. Indeed, “transubstantiation” is a term which the 
Council of Trent, using its infallibility, declared very suitable to indicate the conversion of the 
substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Body and Blood of Our Lord (4). 

Note also that the text of 1969 of the Institutio, specially drawn up to explain what the Mass is, 
does not even declare - as the synod of Pistoia at least declared - that there is a “real presence” of Our 
Lord in the Eucharist, and that in the consecration the substances of the bread and the wine cease to 

B. Number 7 of the Institutio 

In a definition of the Mass, even one which is merely descriptive, it is impossible, under any 
circumstances, for its principal element, which is the notion of sacrifice, to be absent (5). 

Now, the item of the Institutio, in the edition of 1969, which treats of the “General Structure of 
the Mass”, begins with a phrase (N 7) to which it is difficult to deny the character of a definition of the 
Mass, in which however sacrifice is not spoken of: 

“The Supper of the Lord or Mass is the sacred sinaxis or assembly of the people of God which 
congregates, presided over by the priest to celebrate the memorial of the Lord. Therefore, the promise of 
Christ is meaningful in an altogether special way for the local meeting of the holy Church: “Where two 
or more are congregated in my name there I am in the midst of them” (Mat. 18, 20)”. 

We shall leave aside this new ambiguity in relation to the notion of the “presence” of Christ, 
according to which the principal presence 

(1) Denz.-Sch. 2629, Denz.-Umb. 1529. 

(2) Denz.-Sch. 2629, Denz.-Umb. 1529. 

(3) See, for example, Schillebeeckx , “ Transubstantiation ...”, pp. 286 ff., refuted by Clark , “Adiumenta...”. 

(4) Denz.-Sch. 1642, 1652. 

(5) See Council of Trent , Denz.-Sch. 1751 (we cite this canon in note 4 of p. 8). - In connection with the modified 
text of the Institutio, referring to the notion of sacrifice, see pp. 75-77. 


of Our Lord in the Mass would appear to be of the spiritual order, and not the substantial presence under the consecrated 

We shall set to one side also the attempt which is made repeatedly throughout the Institution to introduce expressions 
which weaken the opposition to Protestantism or the sacrificial significance of the Mass, such as “Supper of the Lord”, 
“assembly”, “People of God”, “Memorial of the Lord". 

We shall furthermore leave aside, for the time being, the affirmation that the priest “presides” over the assembly, - a 
notion so agreeable to the Protestants, because it insinuates that the priest is primarily the delegate of the people, or the 
primus inter pares , and not the sacred minister, selected by God who acts in the place of Christ (in persona Christi). This 
question will be analyzed further on (1). 

But we shall consider here only the point in focus at the moment: the definition of the Mass which this item appears 
to contain. There would be missing from this definition any reference to sacrifice. Above all it would be lacking any 
reference to propitiation, that is, to the satisfaction which Jesus Christ in the Mass pays for the sins of men. Then, if what is 
here pretended to be a definition of the Mass, it is a false definition, contrary to the Council of Trent. 

However, the authors of the Institutio try to escape from such accusations denying that this item contains a definition 
properly so called. See how Father Bugnini, secretary of the commission for the reform of the liturgy, related the conclusions 
of the XII plenary session of this organ, in which were considered the objections made to item n 7 of the Institutio : 

“The Fathers (Cardinals and Bishops, members of the Commission) considered certain difficulties manifested recently in 
relation to certain points of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani. They recalled that the Institutio Generalis is not a 
dogmatic text, but rather a pure and simple exposition of the rules which order the eucharistic celebration (2); it does not seek 
to give a definition of the Mass, but only to present a description of the rite (3). What the Mass is, from the theological point 
of view, can be deduced from certain paragraphs of the Institutio (4), and also it is well known to all, from the treatises of 
theology and pontifical documents of a doctrinal character” (5) 

Even though one takes number 7 of the Institutio, in its edition of 1969, as a non essential definition (6), it is impossible to 
accept it. For it is, in any case, a clause which presents to the faithful an assertion about the Mass which is at least insidious, 
at the same time as it leads them to think that something has changed as far as the 

(1) See pp. 15 ft. 

(2) This affirmation is false. The Institutio is filled with doctrinal affirmations. No one would dare to say, for example, that the following 
assertion of number 1 does not have a doctrinal character: “in it (the Mass) we find the high point of the action whereby God, in Christ, 
sanctifies the world, and of the worship which men offer to the Father, adoring Fiim through Christ the Son of God”. Would this be a pure and 
simple exposition of a rule which orders the eucharistic celebration?” - Such doctrinal concepts are found at every step throughout the 

One must say the same thing about number 7 cited above. Flow can one deny that that text contains an affirmation about dogmatic material? 
Flow can one sustain that all that there is there is mere “exposition of the rules which order the eucharistic celebration?” What are the “rules” 
which that item contains? If we want to avoid sophisms, we absolutely must recognize that number 7 of the Institutio, in its first edition, 
contains a doctrinal assertion which gives the basis of the “rules which order the eucharistic celebration”, which subsequently appear in the 

The traditional Roman Missal - it is true - contains various introductory documents which are not “dogmatic texts”, but rather “pure and simple 
expositions of the rules which order the eucharistic celebration”. As we have already observed (note 6 of p. 8), even a summary comparison 
between the documents alluded to and the recent Institutio reveal unequivocally the doctrinal character of the latter and the merely practical 
character of the former. 

Furthermore, when the Institutio was in preparation, the Liturgical Commission itself said that the document ought to contain “TFIEOLOGICAL 
PRINCIPLES, pastoral and rubrical norms for the celebration of the Mass” (see Notitiae, 1968, p. 181. - The capitals are ours). And in a 
report made to the Second General Conference of the Latin-American Episcopate, in Medellin, August 30, 1968, Father Bugnini declared that 
the Institutio is an ample TFIEOLOGICAL, pastoral, CATECFIETICAL and rubrical exposition, that it is an introduction to the 
COMPREFIENSION and the celebration of the Mass” (in Revista Eclesiastica Brasileira, Vol. 28, 1 968, p.628 - The capitals are ours). 

(3) As one sees, Father Bugnini himself recognizes that number 7 of the first edition of the Institutio, if it contains a definition of the Mass, is 
liable to the criticisms that were being made of it. 

(4) Would the aforementioned text of the number 7 of the Institutio be one of those paragraphs from which one deduces what the Mass is? If 
it be, we fall once again into a heterodox definition of the Mass. If it not be such, what is the objective of this paragraph of the Institutio, which 
can only confuse the faithful, leading them to form an erroneous idea about the Eucharistic Sacrifice? 

The observation of Father Bugnini would - it is true - hold for the introductory documents of the traditional Roman Missal. Indeed, practically 
all of its paragraphs help the faithful to comprehend “what the Mass is from a theological point of view”. The numerous genuflections indicate 
the littleness of men and the grandeur of the sacrifice which is realized there; the use of the Latin language expresses the unfathomable 
mystery which is celebrated; the priest, facing the altar, makes it clear that he acts as a minister of the God and not as a delegate of the 
people; and the great care with which the sacred species are treated reveals our faith in the real presence; etc. 

(5) L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in the French language, November 28, 1969, p. 1 2. 

To say that the definition of the Mass is already known and that it is in the treatises and the pontifical documents, is to evade the question. 
The question is whether the new Ordo really agrees with Tridentine and traditional theology. 

(6) It is thus that one of the experts of the Liturgical Commission, Father C. Vagaggini . O.S.B., presents it. - See “O Novo Ordo 
Missae e a Ortodoxia”, in the Revista Eclesiastica Brasileira, 30 (1 970) 93-101. 


Traditional concept of the Mass as a sacrifice. 

C. A Propitiatory Sacrifice 

As far as what we have just said about the absence of the notion of sacrifice in the apparent or 
the real definition of the Mass in item number 7, referred to above, it can be alleged, that even in its 
former edition, the Institutio affirms various times that the Mass is a sacrifice. That is in the numbers 2, 
48, 54, 60, 62, 153, 259, 335 and 339. 

Now, the defenders of the Institutio have alleged that there are no grounds to censure the absence 
of the notion of sacrifice in number 7, if this notion appears so many times in other topics. 

We do not wish to insist here that in the number 7 referred to, there could not fail to be some 
reference to the sacrifice, given the nature of the assertion which is made there. This point has already 
been seen. 

But we would like to show that the allusions to the notion of sacrifice made by the Institutio are 
all of them insufficient to distinguish the Catholic notion about the Mass, from the Protestant concepts 
of the Supper of the Lord. 

* * 

Indeed, as is known, the sacrifice of the Mass has four ends adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and 
petition (1). What is in question in the age old dispute of Catholics and Protestants about the matter is 
not properly speaking, the sacrificial character of the Mass. Rather it is its propitiatory character. In 
other words, Catholics and Protestants admit that the Mass is a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. But 
the Protestants deny - and here is their heresy in this matter - that the Mass constitutes a propitiatory 
sacrifice (2). 

It is of great importance, then, that we verify whether the Institutio , in its edition of 1969, 
admitted the notion of propitiation , and did not merely speak of sacrifice , silencing thus its propitiatory 

The importance of this is all the greater since the Council of Trent defined that the Mass is a 
“truly propitiatory sacrifice” (3) and hurled the following anathema: 

“If anyone says that the sacrifice of the Mass is only of praise and thanksgiving, or a mere 
commemoration of the 

(1) Adoration is the honor offered to God because of his infinite and absolute excellence. Thanksgiving is the 
manifestation of our gratitude to God for the benefits received from Him. 

“The sacrifice is called propitiatory - explains Father Aldama (“De Saint Euch.”, p.338) - in as much as it is an 
act which placates God, Who rightly feels offended by the sinner. This is done by satisfaction, which is 
reparation, according to a proportional equality, of the injury perpetrated; it pertains then to the virtue of justice”. 

By impetration, we ask of God new benefits. 

(2) See pp. 92 and 99 - on p. 43ff. We show that the Protestants are coherent with their errors 
when they deny the Mass the character of a propitiatory sacrifice. 

(3) Denz.-Sch. 1743. 


sacrifice consummated on the cross, but that it is not propitiatory (...)- let him be anathema” (1). 

Now, in analyzing the various passages of the text of 1969 of the Institutio which speak of 
sacrifice, we see that in not one of them is the propitiatory character of the Mass affirmed (2). On the 
contrary, at every moment they refer to the Mass as a sacrifice of praise, of thanksgiving, of 
commemoration of the sacrifice of the Cross - all of these true aspects, but which the Council of Trent 
declared insufficient for the Catholic conception of the Mass. In the texts of the Institutio which we 
shall cite below, we shall point out in capitals the topics concerning these non propitiatory aspects of the 

Referring to the fruits of the Mass, number 2 speaks of those fruits: 

“For the obtaining of which Christ the Lord instituted the EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE (3) of his Body 
and Blood and confided it to his beloved bride, the Church, AS A MEMORIAL OF HIS PASSION 

Number 48: “The last Supper, in which Christ instituted the MEMORIAL OF HIS DEATH AND 
RESURRECTION, unceasingly becomes present in the Church, when the priest, representing Christ the 
HIS DESCIPLES THAT THEY DO IN HIS MEMORY, instituting the SACRIFICE and the paschal 
banquet.” (4) 

Number 54: “And now begins the center and the high point of the whole celebration, that is, the 
Here is the sense of this prayer: that all the congregation of the faithful unite itself with Christ in the 

Number 335: “The Church offers the EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE of the Passover (Easter) of Christ for 
the dead so that, through the communion of all of the members of Christ among themselves, where some 

The number 56h, 60, 62, 153 and 339 refer to the sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, 
without however presenting major explanations about the nature of this sacrifice. 

The same thing is the case with number 259, which only indirectly relates the idea of sacrifice 
with “the table of the Lord”, and “thanksgiving”. 

(1) Denz.-Sch. 1753. 

(2) On the manner in which the notion of propitiation figures in the text of 1970 of the Institutio, see pp. 65, 77, 

(3) “Eucharist”, etymologically and in its technical sense, signifies “giving thanks”. 

(4) See the 1970 text of this paragraph of the Institutio on p. 77. 


* * * 

On the other hand, numerous times the Institutio in its primitive edition employs expressions of 
sacrificial content, as “host”, but in not one of these passages is the propitiatory character of the sacrifice 
of the Mass affirmed. 

* * * 

There also occur in the Institutio expressions which tend to put in the shadow the sacrificial and 
propitiatory character of the Mass. This is the case of the exaggerated insistence on the principle - 
which is incontestable in itself - that in the Mass, there is a banquet, since there Jesus Christ gives us his 
Body and his Blood as food. This aspect of the Mass is undoubtedly true, but it must be subordinated to 
the sacrificial and propitiatory aspect, all the more so since Protestants try to reduce the eucharistic 
sacrifice to a banquet, and one sees by the already mentioned condemnation hurled at Trent (1): 

“if anyone says that in the Mass God is not offered true and proper sacrifice, or that Christ offering 
himself IS NO MORE THAN HIS GIVING HIMSELF TO US AS FOOD - let him be anathema” (2). 

Now, the text of 1969 of the Institutio which only in ten passages refers to the sacrifice”, 
employs innumerable times expressions relative to the Eucharistic agape: for example “ spiritual food”, 
“supper”, “table of the Lord”, “banquet” (“convivium”), “refection”, etc. For example, numbers 2, 7, 8, 
33, 41, 48, 49, 55, 56, 56g, 62, 240, 241, 259, 268, 281, 283, 316. 

* * 

If we pass from the Institutio, to the commentary of the B.A.C. (3), we shall see that in this latter the 
omissions and ambiguities tending to put in the shadow the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the 
Mass are even more numerous. 

Among the 171 titles of the analytical index of the work, the words “sacrifice” and “propitiation” 
do not even appear. 

In treating of the places where the Mass must be celebrated - which according to traditional 
practice are the churches - the commentators of the B.A.C. say: 

“Those places have, if one will permit us the comparison, something of the character of a great refectory 
for banquets; a salon for conferences, where the wisdom of God is heard; a theater where one assists at 
the great spectacle of theophany; a room for conversation, where one dialogues with God; and 

(1) In the text which follows the capitals are ours. 

(2) Denz.-Sch. 1751. 

(3) We refer to the book Nuevas Normas de la Misa, pointed out on p. 6 where we give the reason why we make 
a special commentary on that book. 


something of a salon for parties, where the believers celebrate their joys” (1). 

Note how they speak about everything, except a church properly so called, that is, a sacred place 
in which Our Lord, really present, immolates Himself over the altar in propitiation for the sins of men. 

Later on, they fall again into the same unjustifiable omission. After making the dubious 
affirmation that the faithful ought to “offer a spiritual sacrifice everywhere” (2), they continue: 

“This idea of a Christian reunion ought to be at the root of every structure of a church: 
an assembly of Jesus Christ with his brothers to hear the word of God, to respond to those words with 
their gratitude, their songs and their supplications, as also to express to one another the love which 
Christ asked for in the Supper as that which is distinctive of his disciples. Everything which helps to 
express this reality and in the measure in which it expresses it (3) will be praiseworthy; everything 
which disturbs this will be deplorable” (4). 

In explaining the new concept of the altar, the commentators of the B.A.C. return to underline the 
same idea: 

“In fact the altar is, above all, as is said various times in the text of the Institutio itself, the table of the 
Lord (nn. 49, 259, etc.), and it ought to appear to be such by its ornamentation, by the cloths, by the 
form of its construction, by the catechesis which is made from it to the people, by the motives which are 
given to justify its veneration. If later, as time went by (5), the altar also took on the character of a 
sepulchre of martyrs and altar of sacrifice, these aspects can be complementary, but they are by no 
means, that which ought to stand out most for the persons who are united for the celebration of the 
memorial of the Lord. For this reason the Institutio which seeks that the altar be presented always as the 
table of the Lord, is not so categorical in the detail of the relics (. . .)” (6). 

D. The “Narrative of the Institution” 

Another passage of the edition of the 1969 of the Institutio , which has a character doctrinally 
censurable is the cited item “d” of number 55 (7), which treats ex professo of the Consecration. 

(1) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 61 . 

(2) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 61 . 

(3) Therefore, churches should not have for their principal inspiration the notions of the Cross, of suffering, of 
sacrifice, of propitiation, of repentance for our sins. The measure of everything is the “word of God”, giving of 
thanks, mutual love, joy, etc. 

(4) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 61 . 

(5) Note the insinuation that Our Lord did not institute the Mass as a sacrifice. 

(6) Nuevas Normas..., p. 246. 

(7) See p. 8 - on p. 78 we indicate the modifications which that item of the Institutio underwent in 1970. 


The item is introduced with the title narratio institutionis - that is “narrative of the institution”. 
Now, according to Catholic doctrine, the priest who consecrates does not merely “narrate” that which 
Our Lord did in the sacred Supper, but he acts “in persona Christi”, in the place of Christ, lending Him 
his own lips and his own voice. 

According to the Protestants, in the Consecration, the minister only narrates that which is in the 
Gospels, he only repeats the words of Christ, thus calling to mind the last Supper. Since according to 
them there is no transubstantiation, this narration is enough, for it is not necessary nor is it possible that 
the words of Christ be pronounced affirmatively and imperatively by the priest (1). 

Observe then the gravity of the subtitle Narratio institutionis (2). In addition to that, this passage 
becomes even more suspicious in view of the previously pointed out silence of the document, in its 
primitive edition, in respect to the concepts of “real presence” and “transubstantiation” (3). 

The same ambiguity about the nature of the Consecration is present in the commentary of the 
B.A.C. (4). On explaining this central part of the Mass, its authors adopt a position which fully 
corresponds to Protestant principles: 

“(The Eucharistic Prayer) is a consecratory action because by means of it is effected the sanctification of 
the gifts” (5). 

Other passages in which this work emits Protestant concepts about the Consecration are 
indicated further on: it insinuates that the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is equivalent to his 
“real presence” in the scriptural reading made during the Mass (6); it gives one to understand that the 
transubstantiation is not realized at the precise moment in which the priest pronounces the words of the 
Consecration (7); etc. 

E. The President of the Assembly 

As the Council of Trent defined, the priesthood 

“was instituted by our Saviour, who gave to the Apostles and his successors in the priesthood the power 
to consecrate, to offer and to minister his Body and his Blood as well as to pardon and to retain sins” (8). 

(1) According to certain Protestants, the words of Christ are not pronounced merely narratively. 

However, those who argue thus do not admit in any way that the celebrant utters them affirmatively and 
imperatively in the name of Our Lord Himself; but they maintain that, in addition to the verbal narrations, there is a 
theatrical representation which is essential to the ceremony. As one sees, this detail - which we shall treat ex 
protesso on pp. 103 - has nothing to do with the question which occupies us now. 

(2) As is obvious, we do not censure the use of the expression narratio institutionis , which is even classical in 
Catholic theology (see for example Lercher , Inst. Theol’ Dogm., vol. IV-2-1, p. 330, note 303). What is 
censurable, is that the very words of the Consecration, which ought to be said imperatively and not narratively, 
are presented under the subtitle “narrative of the institution” without further indications . 

(3) See pp. 6 ff. - The Institutio employs expressions like in persona Christi sometimes; but it does so in a 
context in which these expressions lose the precise sense which the scholastics attribute to them. We show this 
on pp. 1 6 ff. 

(4) We refer to the work of the B.A.C. indicated on p. 6. 

(5) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 1 28. - On the Protestant character of this affirmation, see pp. 100 ff. 

(6) Nuevas Normas ..., pp. 31, 85, passages commented on by us on p. 22 - The Lutherans accept the 
expression “real presence”, as we indicated on pp. 100-101. 

(7) Nuevas Normas..., pp. 123-124, text upon which we comment on pp. 100-102. 

(8) Denz.-Sch. 1764. 


Therefore, the power of consecrating belongs to the priest, and not to the people. If the 
Scriptures and Catholic theology speak of the “priesthood” of the faithful, its is in the broad sense of the 
term, which indicates only the consecration of all the baptized to the divine worship, in union with Our 
Lord, the supreme and eternal priest (1). 

To confuse this priesthood of the people to that of the priest, would be to adopt, once again, a 
Protestant principle, for according to the pseudo-Reformers of the XVI Century the celebrant is not a 
priest in a different sense from that in which the people are, but only presides over the eucharistic 
assembly as a delegate of all those who are present. 

Also on this point, the Institutio has some expressions which are found in traditional doctrine, 
but, beside these, it places notions and principles which insinuate or contain the Protestant thesis. 

Thus it is that one reads, in number 10, that the priest “presides over the assembly representing 
Christ” (personam Christi gerens ). And, in number 60, that “the priest (...) presides over the assembly 
united there acting in the place of Christ” (in persona Christi praeest) (2). Number 48 says that the 
priest “represents Christ” (Christum Dominum repraesentans). 

As one sees, these expressions have an altogether traditional tonus, being even the technical 
terms which designate the manner by which the celebrant acts in place of Our Lord. 

Such expressions, however, figure in the Institutio in a context that cause a certain perplexity. 
On one hand, it doesn’t say, what exactly consists in “taking the place of Christ”, or “representing Him”. 
On the other hand the Institutio contains numerous passages which insinuate that the celebrant is a mere 
president of the assembly, and that his principal function in the Mass consists in representing the faithful 
united there. 

Such facts open the way for the “representation” of Christ to be understood in a broad sense - for 
example, that every Christian is another Christ - and not in the strict and precise sense of a hierarchical 
and visible priesthood, in function of which the priest lends his own lips and his won voice to Our Lord 
in the moment of Consecration. This is what we shall see in the analyses which follow: 

1. We have already indicated that, in the n 7 of the first edition of the Institutio , the priest is 
distinguished only as the president of the “assembly of the people of God. (3). Now, this topic is of the 
greatest importance, for, even though it not be understood as a definition of the Mass, undoubtedly it is 
destined to 

(1) On this point, one may consult: Sola, De Sacramentis..., p.587-588; as well as the documents cited there 
from the Council of Trent , the Roman Catechism , Pius XII , and Saint Augustine . 

(2) In connection with the new text of 1 970, of this item of the Institutio, see pp. 78-79. 

(3) See pp. 10 ff. 


orient the faithful toward a better comprehension of the Mass (1). 

2. In number 10, immediately after affirming that the priest presides over the assembly representing 
Christ, the Institutio declares that the Eucharistic Prayer constitutes a “presidential prayer”. It happens 
that the same number defines “presidential prayers” as those “which are directed to God, IN THE 
reader will be led by this passage to think that in the Consecration the priest speaks principally in the 
name of the people. 

Undoubtedly, there are parts of the Eucharistic Prayer which are directed to God also in the name 
of the people. But its principal part, which is the Consecration, is said by the priest exclusively in the 
name of Our Lord. It is impossible for a Catholic, on this point, to admit any ambiguity. - So, then, 
number 10 of the Institutio is one of the most censurable of the whole document (3). 

3. The principle which we read in number 12 is particularly strange: 

“THE NATURE of the “presidential” parts demands that they be pronounced in a loud and clear voice, 
and be heard attentively by all. Therefore, when the priest is pronouncing them, let there be no other 
prayers or hymns, let the organ and any other musical instruments be silent” 

Therefore, also the words of the Consecration ought to be pronounced in those conditions - 
which insinuates once more that in that moment the priest acts specifically as a delegate of the people. 

Furthermore, that item of the Institutio evidently contains a grave censure against the rubric of 
the traditional Ordo, according to which the Canon is not said in a “Loud and distinct” voice. This fact 
is particularly worthy of attention in view of the following anathema established by the Council of 

“If anyone says that the rite of the Roman Church whereby a part of the Canon and the Words of the 
Consecration are pronounced in a low voice must be condemned (...)- let him be anathema” (5). 

Declaring that the nature of the “presidential” parts - and therefore the Eucharistic Prayer and the 
prayers of Consecration - demand that they be pronounced in a loud and clear voice, the Institutio 
establishes a principle valid for all times and therefore contains implicitly the affirmation that the 
Council of Trent erred in that point (6). 

(1 ) See the discourse of Father Buqnini in Medillin, which we cite in note 2, p. 1 0. 

(2) The capitals are ours. 

(3) In spite of the gravity of the censures which it merits, this item 10 was not modified in the 1970 text of the 

(4) The capitals are ours. 

(5) Denz.-Sch. 1759. 

(6) Number 12 of the Institutio was not altered in 1 970 either. 


4 . Number 271 formulates a new criticism of the traditional Mass, also based upon the false notion of 
the “presidential” function of the celebrant: 

“The seat of the celebrant ought to signify his function as the president of the assembly and director of 
prayer. For this reason, its most suitable position is facing the people in the center rear of the sanctuary 

According to the Roman Ordo, the priest is normally facing the altar for his is above all a 
sacrificer who, in name of the Word Incarnate presents himself before the Eternal Father (1). - The 
modification introduced is based upon a notion of “presidency” of the “assembly” which conflicts with 
traditional doctrine. 

* * * 

We encounter in the commentary of B.A.C. an important confirmation of the fact that the Ordo 
of 1969, introduced a new notion, which calls to mind the Protestant idea about the “presidency” of the 
“assembly” by the celebrant (2): 

“(. . .) it is the people of God, and not precisely the minister who properly celebrate (...)” (3). 

“The assembly is the work of all. All are baptized and participate in the unique priesthood of Christ. 
All are filled with the Holy Spirit: (4). 

“All this rhythm of harmony and structure makes it possible for the mystery to be celebrated by all the 
assembly, and not only by the clergymen or by one sector of the people. In the course of the numerous 
items of the Institutio we can perceive an artistic spirit and tone of celebration which involves all the 
celebrating people” (5). 

“When those who are baptized meet, they all go to exercise their baptismal priesthood. After centuries 
in which only the action of the ministers appeared in the celebration, we can put things once again on 
their true foundation. The people of God is, all of it, a priestly people (...). From the people of God in 
general arise the ministers: from the bishop, the priest and the deacon, ordained for that end by a 
sacrament, to the acolytes, musicians, ushers, etc (...), all should collaborate for a better exercise of the 
common priesthood” (6). 

* * * 

As we have seen, the Institutio insinuates that erroneous notion of the priesthood of the faithful, 
and the prestigious collection of 

(1) Note that, according to the traditional practice of the Church, there is no exclusivism about 

this matter. In numerous rites, for example, the Mass is celebrated versus populum. What causes perplexity is 
the fact that the new Ordo proscribes the Mass which is not celebrated versus populum, as a less apt way, as not 
expressing in an appropriate way the “presidential” function of the priest. 

(2) We refer to the work indicated on p. 6. 

(3) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 77. 

(4) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 91 . 

(5) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 54. 

(6) Nuevas Normas ..., pp. 142-143. 


the B.A.C. publishes a commentary on the Institutio, in which this notion is explicitly defended as being 
that of the document. The impunity with which that work circulates leads the faithful to understand that 
the work interprets and develops correctly the text of the Institutio. And the ample distribution of this 
work, now in its eighth edition, shows how such an erroneous concept of the priesthood is taking root in 
the people. 

F. Jesus Christ, The Principal Priest ( Sacerdos ) 

As the Council of Trent defined, in the Holy Mass Jesus Christ “Immolates Himself for the 
Church through the hands of the priests” (1). For this reason it is said that Our Lord is the principal 
sacerdos of all Masses, while the priest is a secondary, ministerial or instrumental sacerdos,. The 
priesthood of the celebrant is, on the other hand essentially distinct from that of the people, as we have 
already observed (2), so that the people do not take part in the Mass in the same way as the priest. To 
deny any of these truths is to fall into a Protestant error. 

The Institutio is not explicit in this matter. For if, on one hand, it contains expressions which can 
be interpreted as affirmations of traditional doctrine (3), on the other hand, considered over all, it leaves 
the way open for certain interpretations which are simply erroneous. Indeed, not once does the 
document affirm clearly that Our Lord is the Principal sacerdos and that the celebrant exercises a 
secondary and ministerial priesthood , but one essentially distinct from the priesthood of the people (4). 

* * * 

Commenting on the forementioned numbers 1 and 4, the writers of the B.A.C. take advantage 
once more of these imprecisions and silences of the Institutio to expound a theory about the priesthood - 
of Christ, of the priest and of the people - which disagrees fundamentally with the doctrine of the 
Church. We read in the commentary of the B.A.C., in connection with the principle that the Eucharist is 
the “action of Christ”: 

“Christ acts personally in every celebration, he is the unique sacerdos of the Christian people (...), to 
such a point that the Christian revelation avoided very intentionally giving the name of Sacerdos to 
those who preside at the liturgical reunions of the Christians, but gave to them names such as bishop or 
presbyter (alder) or simply “Ministers (instruments, servants) of Christ” (5), (...). This is what this first 
affirmation, theologically so profound, of the 

(1) Denz.-Sch. 1741. 

(2) See pp. 1 5 ff. 

(3) In addition to the numbers 1 0, 48, and 60 of the Institutio already cited on p. 1 6, see: number 1 , according to 
which the celebration of the Mass is an “action of Christ and of the people of God hierarchically organized”; and 
number 4, where one reads that the eucharistic celebration is “an act of Christ and of the Church”. 

(4) In connection with the modifications which, in respect to this were introduced in the Institutio in 1970, see pp. 
65 ff. 

(5) In this passage, the commentators of the B.A.C. pass over one of the condemnations of Trent : “If anyone 
says that in the New Testament there is no visible and external priesthood (...), but only a simple ministry of the 
preaching of the Gospel (...)- let him be anathema” (Denz.-Sch. 1771), 


Institutio signifies: The Eucharist is an action of Christ (...) (1). 

Going on to expound the assertion that the Eucharist is an “action of the people of God 
hierarchically organized”, the commentators of the B.A.C. write: 

“Concerning the Eucharist (...), it is not said that it is the action of the priest to whom the people 
unite themselves -as the Mass was frequently presented until recently - but rather it is said, more 
exactly, that it is the action of this people served by the ministers, who precisely by means of their 
ministry give the people the sacramental presence of their Lord. One could repeat here that which was 
said in the Council on rejecting the outline proposed for the Constitution of the Church. It is known, 
indeed, that in the draft of the Constitution referred to (...) the Church was presented in the form of a 
“pyramid”, beginning from the Pope and the Bishops and going down to the last one of the faithful, and 
it is known that that scheme, which corresponded to the classic theology of the last centuries (2), was 
rejected because it placed that which is relative and of service (hierarchy) over that which is ontological 
and absolute (the people of God). 

In a similar manner, and undoubtedly already as a mature fruit of this new and more exact vision 
of the Church, Eucharist is here presented not as an action of the celebrant, to whom the people unite 
themselves, but as an action of the people of God. It is important, then, that the pastoral guidance 
emphasize this affirmation, and thus not fall into the danger of presenting the participation of the faithful 
in the Mass as being a participation less important that that of the minister. Indeed, the participation of 
the people is not in the same line as that of the celebrant. It is a question of two different realities: the 
participation of the people is something which belongs to them because the whole Church is the body of 
Christ which unites itself to its head in the celebration; on the other hand, in turn, the ministry of the 
celebrant in as much as the latter is distinguished from the faithful, has only a ministerial function: 
through it the faithful are united to Christ and with Christ they celebrate the Eucharist. Thus it is 
affirmed that the Eucharist is an action of Christ and an action of the people of God (3). 

It is interesting to emphasize also in this topic the explicit mention of how the people of God 
celebrate the Eucharist: indeed, they celebrate it as a hierarchically organized assembly. With this 
phrase, it is not a question, in any way, of indicating that among the members of the people of God there 
are members of greater or lesser dignity; we should not speak of diversity of dignity, but rather an 

(1) Nue vas Normas ..., pp. 68-70. 

(2) The commentators of the B.A.C. err if they think that this conception is a mere opinion of the “classical 
theology of the last centuries”. In reality, it is a dogma of the Holy Church (see in this respect: Council of Trent , 
Denz.-Sch. 1767-1768, 1777, Denz.-Umb. 960, 1967; Herve , Manuale Theol. Dogm., vol. I, pp. 290, 303, 307, 
321; Tanquerev , Syn. Theol. Dogm., tom. I, pp. 434, 454; Salaverri , De Eccl. Christi, pp.548, 604; Iraqui- 
Abarzuza , Manuale Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 278). 

(3) The concept of the Mass introduced here by the commentators of the B.A.C. is absolutely false. The 
celebrant, before being representative and minister of the people, is representative and minister of Christ. For 
this reason he is true sacerdos. To say that the participation of the faithful in the Mass is not less than that of the 
minister, is to deny the dogma of a hierarchical and visible priesthood instituted by Our Lord in the Church (see 
Council of Trent . Denz.-Sch. 1764, 1767, 1771, 1777, Denz.-Umb. 957, 960, 961, 967). 


interchange of services among the disciples of Him, who wished that the greatest be the 
servant of all'’ (1). 

This egalitarian and “horizontal” conception of the Church is inacceptable to Catholics. 

G. A Tendency to Make the “Liturgy of the Word” Equal To the “Eucharistic Liturgy” 

The heresies always tend to overestimate the importance of Scripture, to the detriment both of 
the liturgical formulae of ecclesiastical origin, as well as the eucharistic celebration properly so called. 
By this means they try to silence the voice of Tradition, as well as to propagate their false dogmas 
saying that they are based on Revelation (2). 

The Institutio has, without a doubt, passages which appear to affirm the primacy of the 
“eucharistic liturgy” over the biblical readings. This is the case in number 54, which puts in the 
Eucharistic prayer the “Peak and centre of the whole celebration.” 

However, other parts of the Institutio , which have not been modified at all in the new edition of 
the document, seem to overestimate the importance of the scriptural readings, reaching the point at times 
of causing in the reader the impression that they have an importance equal to that of the cult of Our 
sacramental Lord. 

In number 8, for example, we read: 

“The Mass consists in a certain sense of two parts, that is to say: the liturgy of the word and that 
of the Eucharist, so intimately united among themselves that they constitute one single act of worship. 
In fact, in the Mass the table of the word of God is prepared as well as that of the Body of Christ, to 
instruct and nourish the faithful. There are also certain rites which open and close the celebration”. 

According to number 9, when the Sacred Scripture is read in the Church, “Christ present in his 
word, announces the Gospel”; and the biblical readings “supply to the liturgy an element of the greatest 

Without a doubt the expression “of the greatest importance” can be understood as an absolute 
superlative, and not relative - that is, it does not indicate necessarily that the biblical readings constitute 

(1) Nuevas Normas ..., pp. 70-71 . 

(2) See D. Gueranqer , Instit. Liturg., tome I, Pp. 415-416. 


most important element of the Mass. However, such an interpretation is not excluded, giving thus an 
occasion to fall into the Protestant error of the overestimation of the value of the Scripture in relation to 
the real presence in the Eucharist. 

In addition to this, more than once the Institutio declares that “by his words Christ Himself 
becomes present in the midst of the faithful” (1). 

* * * 

Considered then, in their context, the dispositions of the Institutio permit a dangerous equivocation to 
surround the true importance of the biblical readings in the Mass. 

The commentators of B.A.C., always agile in detecting ambiguities in the Institutio in order to 
explain them in a neomodemist and Protestant sense, write: 

“(...) ordinarily, the privileged location to hear the word of God is the assembly (to be 
understood: The Mass). All ought to go to it as they go to the eucharistic communion: disposed not to 
lose even a fragment through their own fault, for in all of them Christ is equally present” (2). 

In another passage the commentators of the B.A.C. establish a new comparison between the 
“liturgy of the word” and the Eucharist, in terms which tend to attribute to them an equal dignity: 

“Both the Constitution Sacrosanctum Councilium (n. 7) as well as the Encyclical Mysterium 
Fidei emphasize the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in his Church, IN THE ASSEMBLY OF PRAYER, 
when the SACRED SCRIPTURE is read or is announced or when the SACRAMENT OF THE 
EUCHARIST is offered or administered” (3). 

As we see, it is difficult to imagine a more radical or more daring theory to make the biblical 
readings and the Sacred Eucharist equal. 

* * 

Furthermore in connection with the readings of the Bible in the Mass, the Institutio declares, in 
the same number 9: 

“When the Sacred Scriptures are read in the church, GOD HIMSELF SPEAKS to his people, and Christ, 
PRESENT IN HIS WORD, announces the Gospel. 

(...) Though the divine word contained in the readings of the Sacred Scripture is directed to all 
men of whatever epoch and it IS INTELLIGIBLE TO THEM, its efficacy, however, is augmented by 
the living exposition or sermon, which is a part of the liturgical action” (4). 

(1) Item 33. - Analogous expressions are found in items 9 and 35. 

(2) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 85. 

(3) Nuevas Normas...., p. 31, - The capitals are ours. 

(4) The capitals are ours. 


It is easy to see how much this formulation favors the Protestant error according to which the Holy Spirit 
directly illuminates every one of the faithful who read the Bible, thus dispensing with the living 
Magisterium of the Church, and only admitting an explanation of the minister destined to “increase” the 
fruits of the reading. 

Drawing the consequences of this item of the Institution the commentators of the B.A.C. write: 

“When a believer reads it (the Sacred Scripture), and especially if he does it in a communal atmosphere, 
which is as it were the normal broth for its cultivation, THE SPIRIT RAISES UP in the hearts of the 
WORDS TO PRODUCE NEW LIFE. Thus, in the same way that the historical Christ continues to be 
completed in the mystical Christ, in such way as to prolong the incarnation of God among men, so also 
LIFE, to his image and likeness” (1). 

Such expressions of the authors of the B.A.C. need no commentary. 

H. Memorial of the Resurrection and Ascension 

One of the means employed by the heretics of our time to dissimulate the sacrificial and 
propitiatory character of the Mass, consists in giving excessive emphasis to the fact - true but 
subordinated - that the Mass does not only recall the death of Our Lord, but also the Resurrection and 
the Ascension. 

We say that the Mass recalls the Resurrection and the Ascension only in a subordinated sense, 
because in its sacrificial and propitiatory reality, in its principal symbolic elements, the Mass is 
primarily and directly the renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross. Therefore it calls to mind above all the 
death of Our Lord. Since however in the Mystery of Calvary, which worked Our Redemption properly 
so called, were also included all the other mysteries and all the other happenings of the life of Christ, 
one can and one must say that the Mass recalls also - but in a subordinate fashion - the Resurrection (2), 
the Ascension, and the fact that Our Lord sat at the right hand of the eternal Father, etc. 

The Institution in its edition of 1969, seems to ignore this distinction giving rise to a confusion of 
the concepts. 

Thus it is that, in number 2, the Mass is called the “memorial of 

(1) Nuevas Normas ..., pp. 84-85. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) On this matter, see also p. 78. 


the Passion and Resurrection” of Christ; in number 48 we read that in the Last Supper “Christ instituted 
the memorial of his Death and Resurrection” (1); in number 55e it is said that immediately after the 
Consecration, “the Church celebrates the memorial of Christ, recalling principally his blessed Passion, 
glorious Resurrection and Ascension into heaven”; in n 55d, it is affirmed that in the Last Supper Our 
Lord “instituted the sacrament of his Passion and Resurrection” (2); number 335 calls the Mass “the 
eucharistic sacrifice of the Passover of Christ”; and nn. 7 and 268 declare that in the Mass we celebrate 
the “memorial of the Lord”. 

The commentators of the B.A.C. confirm the fear which we express above. They manifest a 
particular aversion against the tone of sacred and sacrificial sorrow which characterizes the traditional 
Mass, even on feast days. This tendency to reduce the Eucharist to a joyful celebration which expresses 
only mirth becomes evident in the following paragraph of their work: 

“The exhortation (no. 19 of the Institutio) cannot be more opportune for the chant to be of great 
importance in the celebration. The Eucharist is in effect a sacrament of the Pascal of the Lord, a waiting 
for His glorious coming. It is the joyful celebration of the triumph of Christ that was already realized 
and that is awaited by the whole Church. The chant is the natural expression of that joy.” 

(1) In the 1970 edition of this paragraph of the Institutio, the explicit reference to the Resurrection was 
suppressed: see p. 77. 

(2) This paragraph was also modified in 1970, the reference to the Resurrection being then suppressed: see pp. 

(3) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 95. 



An Objection: The Institutio also Affirms Traditional Doctrine 

Before passing on to analyze the new Ordo, it behooves us to refute an objection which has been made 
frequently against those, who in the most divers countries have been pointing out as unacceptable the 
recent reform of the Mass. This objection appears at first sight to be so important, that we would like to 
consider it here with all attention dedicating to it a special chapter. 

The defenders of the New Mass argue: in the Institutio , in its edition of 1969 and above all in that of 
1970, there are parts which affirm the traditional principles in respect to the very points of doctrine 
which some judge to be expounded there in an insufficient or suspicious manner. Now, the confused 
texts ought to be interpreted by the clear texts, and those which are apparently heterodox by those which 
are orthodox. Therefore the document considered over all, can not be classified as suspicious. 

In support of this reasoning, the followers of the Mass allege that, in its primitive text, the Institutio does 
not speak of transubstantiation but it says several times that during the Eucharistic Prayer the Body and 
Blood of Our Lord become present; the term “propitiation” is not employed but the expressions 
“Redemption”. “Salvation”, “purification of sins”, are used; the presidential function of the priest is 
emphasized, but it is also insisted that he celebrates as the representative of Christ; the biblical readings 
are highly valued, but it is made very clear that the centre of the Mass is the Eucharistic Prayer; etc. 
And, on the other hand - allege the same defenders of the new Ordo - in its edition of 1970, the 
Institutio expresses even more clearly these traditional theses, though in it there are still dubious 

A. First Answer: a Rule of Hermeneutics 

In the face of this objection, we are not going to consider here the particular cases which are alleged. In 
all of them - as we have demonstrated in the previous chapter and we shall demonstrate further, 


in those which follow - the traditional affirmation is as it were marginalized by that which is opposed to 

But we are going to consider, in thesis, the principle enunciated in the objection: the obscure and 
suspicious sounding passages of a document do not become suspicious when there are also in the same 
document orthodox texts relative to the same questions. 

It behooves us to give here a first answer of a hermeneutic order, which we expound here in a 
schematic fashion: 

A. In principle, the rule according to which the confused and obscure texts of a document should be 
interpreted by those which are clear is true. 

B. But the rule according to which the suspicious and heterodox texts must be interpreted by those 
which are orthodox, requires a distinction: 

a. the rule is applicable when the suspicious or heterodox passages occur only one or another time, as if 
it were by mistake; 

b. but the rule does not hold when the suspicious or heterodox passages are numerous (for that which 
happens by mistake, is by its nature casual and not frequent); in that hypothesis, one should recur to 
other rules and other means of interpretation; 

c. when, in addition to being numerous, the confused, suspicious and heterodox passages form, united to 
one another, a system of thought , the above cited rule of interpretation does not hold, but rather the 
opposite rule applies : it is necessary then to ask if it is not the orthodox texts which should be interpreted 
in the light of the confused, suspicious and heterodox passages, Let us explain this principle in more 

That which occurs as a lapse is not usually frequent , and above all can not constitute a system . 
Therefore in the hypothesis which has been explained it is not legitimate to interpret the non-orthodox 
passages by the orthodox passages. Although these latter of themselves speak in favour of the 
orthodoxy of the document, in the context it is impossible to eliminate or lessen the suspicion (1). 

Furthermore, on considering the situation only in the abstract, it is not licit to forget that, at least until 
breaking with the Church, the heretics usually present their doctrine alternating the orthodox passages 
with the confused, ambiguous, suspicious and heterodox. This being the case in the hypothesis under 
analysis the orthodox texts in addition 

(1) In connection with the caution with which one must apply the principle “indubio pro reo”, see our article 
“Respondendo a objecoes de um imaginario leitor progressista”, in Catolicismo, no. 206, February, 1968. 


to losing much of their favorable significance give rise for another reason to a new and grave motive of 
suspicion. Since it is desired to abstract from persons and consider the matter with all scientific rigour, 
it is necessary therefore to ask if it is not in the obscure and suspicious passages that one will find the 
true key for the comprehension of the text - inclusively the real sense of the apparently orthodox 
paragraphs. In other words, it behooves us to ask if in reality one should not interpret the orthodox 
passages by those which disagree with good doctrine. 

This leads us to a second answer to be given to the objection which we have formulated. 

B. Second Answer: the Contradictory Character of All Heresies 

In addition to the aforementioned rule of hermeneutics - and contributing to make it more explicit - it 
is necessary to consider here also arguments of another order. It is not possible to treat seriously in the 
scientific plane, matters such as that with which we are now occupied, without recourse to the assistance 
which History can give. That being the case, it appears to us indispensable to present some observations 
founded upon the modus operandi of the heretics in the course of the centuries. 

A superficial study of the history of heresies is enough for us to see that all of them tried to disguise 
their real intentions at least until the moment of their definitive break with the Catholic Church. 

“This tendency - writes D. Antonio de Castro Mayer - to conciliate the inconciliable extremes, to 
find a middle line between truth and error manifested itself from the beginnings of the Church. (...). 
When Arianism was condemned, that tendency gave birth to semi-Arianism. When Pelagianism was 
condemned it engendered semi-Arianism. When Protestantism was condemned at Trent, it raised up 
Jansenism. And from it was born in the same way the Modernism condemned by Blessed Pius X, that 
monstruous confluence of atheism, rationalism, evolutionism, and pantheism, in a school which desires 
to stab the Church from behind. The modernist sect had as its objective, always remaining within the 
church, to falsify true doctrine which it exteriorly pretended to accept, by sophisms, inferences and 

This tendency has not ceased yet; one could even say that it forms part of the History of the 
Church” (1). 

En rigueur, an attentive consideration of this magnificent page 

(1) D. Antonio de Castro Mayer , Carta Past, sobre Probl. Do Apost. Moderno, 1953, p. 7. 


of the illustrious Bishop of Campos, would be enough for us to comprehend how much caution and 
suspicion is necessary in reading the traditional, or apparently traditional passages, which the 
progressives place right beside their obscure and suspicious affirmations. 

Such a strange coexistence of opposing assertions lead us however to focalize yet another aspect 
of the History of heresies; these, in addition to disguising themselves, have the habit of admitting, when 
necessary, principles which are openly contradictory . Frequently they place, alongside an error, a truth 
which is diametrically opposed to it; with that tactic they always allege, if they are questioned, that the 
heterodox passage should be understood according to the orthodox passage - but to their proselytes they 
teach that in reality it is the erroneous thesis which prevails. 

Many are the examples of such contradictions of the heretics, which History furnishes us. Let us 
analyze some of these briefly: 

1. Arianism 

It is not rare to see the contradictions among the heresiarchs reach the point of lying. 

The false oath of the Catholic faith made by Arius before the Emperor Constantine is well known (1). 

2. Pelagianism 

The Pelagians frequently referred to the Redemption. He who reads them without keeping in 
mind the fact that the heretics usually use the arm of contradiction in order to deceive their adversaries, 
could judge that they admitted the idea of Redemption. There is nothing more false. In Dictionnaire cle 
Theologie Catholique, R. Hedde and E. Amann give the following explanation to the fact: 

“Pelagianism reached the point of abolishing the Christian idea of Redemption. Undoubtedly, the 
Pelagians spoke very much about the Redemption; they conserved the word, not the thing. They 
referred to the remission of sins founded on the death of Christ, but their manner of comprehending sin 
and the effect of sin on man, obliged them to interpret this remission in the 

(1) Doubting the sincerity of Arius , Constantine is supposed to have said to him: “If they faith is 

truly orthodox, thou has done well in making this oath; if it be impius, then may God judge thee for they oath” 

(cited by X. Le Bachelet , article “Arianisme”, in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique , col. 1805). 

Saint Alexander , the old Bishop of the imperial city, begged God to either take him out of this world, 
or prevent the rehabilitation of Arius. And that same day, when he was crossing the city accompanied by a 
numerous retinue, the heretic suffered an abominable death, so that the ancient historians applied to him the 
words of the Scripture about Judas: diffusa sunt viscera eius (Act, 1,18- See X. Le Bachelet , op. cit. , cols. 1805- 


NOMINALIST SENSE OF non-imputation of the sins committed; it is nothing more than an exterior 
justification” (1). 

Many are the other examples among the Pelagians of the contradictions which constituted true lies. In 
415 there was called together in Diospolis a Synod which was supposed to judge the heretics Pelagius 
and Celestius. After having examined carefully the writings of Celestius, the Synod condemned him. 
The works of Pelagius were not analyzed, but the Fathers had judged him only on the basis of the 
declarations made by him in the Synod itself. And they absolved him. After reproducing the 
observations of Saint Augustine about this episode, R. Hedde and E. Amann write: 

“The charity of Saint Augustine makes him add that he did not wish to affirm that Pelagius had 
lied in denying his doctrines. This however is the conclusion which one must accept. Pelagius could 
not have been absolved by the Synod of Diospolis, except thanks to reticences which are extraordinarily 
similar to lies” (2). 

Later on, the same perfidy of Pelagius and his followers got to the point of deceiving the very Pope Saint 
Zosimus. This latter, having convoked a Synod in Rome, in 417, especially to judge the Pelagians, and 
having immediately proceeded to a careful examination of his errors, ended by absolving Pelagius and 
some of his defenders in a new Synod. In a letter dated September 21, 417, directed to the Bishops of 
Africa, Saint Zosimus censured them for having given credit to the accusations raised up against 
Pelagius; after expressing the joy which the professions of faith of the Pelagians had caused “to the holy 
men who were there present”, the Pope added: 

“Some scarcely were able to control their sighs and their tears, on seeing that men of such a perfect faith 
could have been calumniated in such a way”. 

To that letter, Saint Zosimus attached certain writings of Pelagius, and said to the Bishops of 


“The reading of these texts will probably bring you the same joy which it brought to us” (3). 

Lies were really frequent among the Pelagians. Saint Augustine, “always so moderate” - 
observed R. Hedde an E. Amann - said of another of them, Julianus de Eclana, that he was 
“ mendacissimus ” in the professions of faith which he made (4). 

(1) R. Hedde and E. Amann , article “Pelagianisme”, in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique , col. 684. 

(2) R. Hedde and E. Amann , op. cit., col. 693. 

(3) See R. Hedde and E. Amann , op. cit., cols. 697-698. 

Later Saint Zosimus found out that he had been deceived by the Pelagians and he condemned them. 

(4) “In disputatione loquacissimus, in contentione calumniosissimus, in professione mendacissiumus” (Op. Imp., 
lib. IV, 52) - cited by R. Hedde and E. Amann , op. cit., col. 702. 


3. Monothelitism 

In regard to Monothelitism, M. Jugie writes: 

“It is the heresy-chameleon par excellence. In the measure in which it was unmasked and in which it 
met resistances, it retreated and made concessions, in such a fashion, that its point of arrival was in 
perfect contradiction with its point of departure” (1). 

4. Protestantism 

The contradictions of Luther are patent in his liturgical reform as well as in the doctrines with 
which he pretended to justify it. 

Studying the Lutheran theory about the real presence, J. Paquier wrote (2): 

“(...) when is Jesus Christ present in the bread and wine? In general Luther says to us that He is present 
only in the moment of Consecration and of Communion. But on this point, as on many others, his 
contradictions are abundant” (3). 

Luther never got to the point of putting into practice his true concepts about the liturgy: 

“However, the changes were made timidly. It is what was required by a certain good sense of Luther 
and the falsity of his attitudes. It was necessary to tranquilize the people” (4). 

In spite of his violent attacks against the Roman Mass, Luther however permitted that, when it 
was necessary, his followers celebrate it, as long as they interpreted the formulae of the Missal 
according to their new concepts (5); and in many places he maintained the traditional ceremonies which 
he vituperated so furiously, “which were, however, now no more that mere appearances emptied of their 
content” (6). 

See then how gravely they will be deceived who, assisting at such Lutheran liturgical 
ceremonies, judged that, because they were equal or almost equal to the Catholic ceremonies, they could 
not be celebrated by true heretics. 

Another characteristic example of the contradiction in the Protestant preaching is given to us by 
Saint Robert Bellarmine: 

“(...) from the beginning the Lutherans said that the Church is invisible. Later, however, seeing the 

(1) Article “Monothelisme”, in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique col. 2307. 

(2) We cite this passage integrally on pp. 81 ff. 

(3) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, col. 1305. 

(4) J. Paquier , op. cit., col. 1306. 

(5) J. Riviere , article “Messe” in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, col. 1 087. We reproduce extensive 
passages of this text of Riviere on pp. 88 ff. 

(6) J. Riviere , op. cit., col. 1089. 


which followed from that, they established, by a secret deliberation, that the Church would be classified 
as visible. And thus they all commenced to teach that the Church is visible; but in such a fashion, that it 
is nominally visible, whereas in the reality it is invisible” (1). 

5. Jansenism 

One of the principle errors of Jensen condemned by the Holy See was in relation to the notion of liberty 

(2). His heretical thesis consisted in the ultimate analysis, in the negation of human liberty. However, in 
his principal work, Augustinus , this thesis, while it was present, was continuously disguised in 
ambiguous propositions, in specious distinctions and in deceptive formulations. In this, there is nothing 
which merits special mention, for it is known that the heresies have always sought to disguise 
themselves in order to better deceive the incautious. 

But in addition to ambiguities and sophisms, Jansen fell, in this point as in others, into frank and 
open contradictions. Thus it is that J. Carreyre, writings in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique 
after expounding the error of Jansen in relation to human liberty, writes: 

“At times Jansen appears to modify his mode of expression: thus, he says that to be free is “to be master 
of oneself, to have in one’s power one’s own acts” (Aug., lib. VI, cap. Ill), and concludes that the 
indeliberate movements which precede the reason are not free (Ibid., caps. XXXVI, XXXVIII)” (3). 

A spirit ingenuous and eager to prove Jansen innocent of the accusation of heresy would see in 
these passages a complete proof of the orthodoxy of the Bishop of Ypres. That was really the 
interpretation which his disciples gave to the work of the master, denying that in it were contained the 
errors condemned by Innocent X (4). But J. Carreyre gives us the real explanation of these texts: 

“However, in these passages and in other similar ones Jansen interprets the before mentioned 
expressions in an altogether special sense. Commonly it is said that an act is in our power when it 
depends on us to practice it or not to practice it, when we have in ourselves the power to select between 
two acts, in such a fashion that our will is not determined to that act. 

Now, according to Jansen, it is enough that the will not be constrained by coercion or exterior violence, 
for the one to be able to say that the act is in our power (Aug. lib. VIII, caps. IV, VI, VIII, XXXV, 
XXXVIII). (...). 

(1) St. Robert Bellarmine , De Ecclesia Militante, lib. Ill, cap. 11, p. 94 -the affirmation is based on the declaration 
of a Protestant theologian converted to Catholicism, Fridericus Staphilus. 

(2) Third proposition condemned by Innocent X in 1653: “In order to gain merits or incur guilt in the state of fallen 
nature, it is not necessary that man have that liberty which excludes necessity, but the liberty which excludes 
coercion is sufficient” (Denz.-Sch. 2003). 

(3) J. Carreyre , article “Jansenisme”, in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique , col. 488. 

(4) It was even necessary for Alexander VII to define that those errors were found in Augustinus (see Denz.-Sch. 
2010 - 2012 ). 


The power to select good or evil consists only, for Jansen, in the fact that the will desire or act 
spontaneously and with delight, and not under constraint, or violence and coercion (...). Therefore, it is 
only a question of power without coercion and without violence and not a faculty which, freely and by 
itself can select this or that” (1). 

It is not only in their directly doctrinal declarations that the heretics do not hesitate, when it is 
necessary, to contradict their own ideas, head on. 

An example of this is the approval given by Jansen to the book Grandeurs de Jesus , of the 
Cardinal of Berulle. Since this book contains affirmations opposed to certain Jansenist doctrines, an 
unwary observer could believe that in giving such approval, the Bishop of Ypres would be expressing 
that which is his authentic thinking in relation to those aforementioned doctrines. However, the truth is 
that Jansen approved the work only with the objective of gaining the sympathy of the Cardinal of 
Berulle, and it is known in fact that he deliberately did not read the book before approving it, because he 
was afraid to encounter there passages contrary to his own ideas (2). 

6. Modernism 

In relation to the flagrant contradictions in which the modernists fell, Saint Pius X wrote: 

“That which will make even more clear what are the doctrines of the modernists is their way of acting, 
which is completely consistent with what they teach. IN WHAT THEY WRITE AND SAY MANY 
AND WITH PREMEDITATION, in accord with the opinion which they profess about the separation 
between the faith and science. For this reason in their books we encounter affirmations which a Catholic 
would approve entirely; but, on the following page, phrases which one would say were those of a 
rationalist. Writing about History, they make no mention at all of the divinity of Christ; but they profess 
it with all firmness when they preach in the church. Treating about History, they do not make any 
references to the Councils or the Fathers; if they teach the Catechism, however, they attribute to the 
latter an outstanding position. In the same way, they separate theological and pastoral exegesis from 
scientific and historical exegesis. (...)” (3). 

(1) Carrevre , op. cit., cols. 488-489. 

(2) See, in respect to this, J. Carrevre , op. cit., col. 324. 

(3) St. Pius X , Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis , p. 1 08. - The capitals are ours. 


7. The “Anti-Liturgical Heresy” 

In his Institutions Liturgiques, D. Gueranger puts into relief the contradiction which is proper to 
the heretics in the matter of worship. He enunciates fourteen principles which rule that which he calls 
the “anti-liturgical heresy” (1), that is to say, the common substrate of the liturgical innovations of all 
the heresies. 

We reproduce here the fourth principle enunciated by D. Gueranger, which has, from certain 
points of view, a relation with the matter which is being treated. After referring incidentally in the first 
points, to various contradictions of the heretics, he writes: 

“4. We should not be surprised at the contradiction which heresy presents in its works, when we 
consider the fourth principle, or, if you wish, the fourth necessity imposed on the sectarians by the very 
nature of their state of revolt: a habitual contradiction with their own principles . It must be so, for their 
own confusion on the great day, which sooner or later has to come, in which God shall reveal the 
nakedness of the heretics before the eyes of the people whom they have deceived, and also because it is 
not proper to men to be consistent: only the truth can be so. Thus it is, that all the sectarians, without 
exception, begin by crying out for the rights of antiquity : they want to purge Christianity of all that 
which is false and unworthy of God, which errors and passions of men have introduced. They desire 
nothing but the primitive, and they seek to take up once again the Christian institution in its crib. For 
this reason, they mutilate, destroy, and cut. Everything falls before their blows. And when one expects 
to see the divine worship reappear in its primitive purity, behold it is filled with new formulae, which 
date for no earlier than yesterday, and which are incontestably human , for those who have written them 
are still alive. All the sects are subjected to this necessity. We see this in the Monophysites and 
Nestorians, and we shall encounter the same thing in all the branches of Protestantism. The ostentation 
with which they preach antiquity does nothing more than put them in a position to attack everything 
which is of the past. Afterwards they go before the people who have been seduced and they swear that 
everything is good, that the papal excrescences have disappeared, that the divine worship has returned to 
its primitive sanctity. We shall note something else characteristic of liturgical modifications made by 
the heretics; in their fury of innovations they are not contented with mutilating the formulae of 
ecclesiastical style, stigmatized by them as human words, but they extend their reprobation to the very 
readings and 

(1) Tome I, pp. 414-425. - See also the concept of Anti-Liturgical Heresy on pp. 405-414. 


Prayers which the Church has taken from the Scriptures; they change them, they replace them, not 
wishing to pray with the Church, excommunication themselves in this way, fearing even the least bit of 
orthodoxy which had presided at the selection of those passages” (1). 

C. The Third Answer: Neomodernist Metaphysics 

The Cited passage of Saint Pius X about the contradictions in which modernists fell is 
particularly illuminating, for it reveals that it is not only by tactics, but also by system , that they are not 
ashamed TO AFFIRM IN ONE PAGE that which they have just denied on the previous one. 

Something analogous occurs with the progressives - those re-editors of modernism in terms 
adapted to our days. 

Indeed, in addition to the reasons of a tactical order already enumerated the progressives have 
one more motive to defend positions which are apparently traditional, side by side with the heterodox 
positions. Phenomenology, professed by them in the philosophical domain, leads to a particularly acute 
extreme of relativist metaphysics. In this latitudinarian paroxysm are amalgamated all the philosophies 
of the present and of the past: Hegelianism, Existentialism, Personalism, the Gnostic doctrines of the 
Orient and of the Occident, Liberalism, Marxism, etc. How could they fail to include Thomism here? 
But how could they include it, if Thomism is diametrically the negation of this relativist syncretism? 

In phenomenological terms, it is easy to resolve this difficulty. It is enough, for example, “to put 
into parentheses: (2) the fundamental objectivism of Thomism. Or it is enough to invite it to reinterpret 
itself or to “rethink itself’, on a Hegelian base (3), thus becoming one more diner at the neomodernist 

We may affirm, for example, that the celebration of the Mass is an action of Christ and “of the 
People of God hierarchically organized” (4), but one gives a new significance to the notion of 
“hierarchical organization” - as the commentators of the B.A.C. do (5) - affirming that it does not 
involve superior and inferior degrees of dignity. 

One can admit - another example furnished by the commentators of the B.A.C. (6) - that there is 
a real presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, but this “real presence” is considered to be 
equal to the presence of Christ in the “praying assembly”. 

In summary: the preoccupation of disguising themselves is particularly acute among the 

progressives, who know very well that the 

(1) D. Prosper Gueranqer , Institutions Liturgiques, tome I, pp. 417-418. 

(2) On the sense of this expression in Husserl , see: Lalande , Vocab. Tecnico y Critico de la Filosofia, article 
“Parentesis”; Foulquie-Saint Jean Diet. De la Langue Philos., article “Epoche”, “Patentheses”, “Reduction 

(3) See Plinio Correa de Oliveira . Baldescao Ideologica Inadvertida e Dialogo. 

(4) Institutio, number 1 . 

(5) We cite this text on pp. 20-21 . 

(6) We cite this text on p. 22. 


faithful would immediately repudiate them if they knew their real purposes. This being the case, 
affirming the traditional doctrine and afterwards relativizing it to the point of concluding the contrary of 
that which was said before, is a tactic characteristic of progressive neomodernism, as it was already of 
modernism. However, in addition to being a tactic, this manner of procedure constitutes a basic element 
of the very neomodernist metaphysics; or rather it forms part of the dialectic, Hegelian and 
Phenomenological anti-metaphysics of the neo-modemists (1). 

* * * 

Same examples taken from the new theories about the indissolubility of matrimony - a point of 
doctrine very different from that with which we have been dealing - will show how amply the 
progressives take advantage of the dialectic recourse of contradiction: 

1) In his book Matrimony in Our Time (2), Father Bernard Haering, Ex-Council theologian, 

considered by the progressives as the best moralist of our days proposes in a surreptitious manner the 
acceptation of divorce by Catholics. Referring to divorced persons who are re-married, he writes for 

“Not unfrequently the two have formed little by little an erroneous conscience . Because they live 
together well, in the human sense, they convince themselves day after day more firmly that God confers 
his blessing on such a reunion. Though perhaps they would admit that the divorce with a new marriage 
should not exist, however they are subjectively convinced rightly or wrongly, that in their case, the 
marriage was invalid, and they deduce from that that for this reason their new union, although it can not 
be contracted in the Church, is however a true marriage before God. Also, we ought to think of the 
instruction, many times deficient, surrounding these problems. Not rarely it also happens that such 
persons, without mentioning their invalid marriage, are going to confession in a church where no one 
knows them and nothing is known of their invalid marriage, they accuse themselves sincerely of all their 
other sins and they receive communion devoutly. There also exists the possibility that God, recognizing 
their subjective good will, concedes them his Grace, although in spite of everything, one ought to, in 
principle, say that their matrimony is invalid” (3). 

Further on, dealing with the case of youthful divorced persons who have remarried, he expresses 
the following ideas: 

“Even when they have not tried as hard as they can to live in common as brother and sister, still their 
continued defense of the indissolubility of matrimony and their effort to preserve others from such a 
situation is in accord with their sincere 

(1) For identical reasons, the employment of ambiguous and deceitful expressions, of euphemisms, etc. is not 
merely a propaganda tactic for the neomodernists, but rather a metaphysically indispensable means of promoting 
the “friction” of contradictory ideas capable of generating the redemptive synthesis (On this notion of the Hegelian 
“friction” of ideas, see Plinio Correa de Oliveira , Baldeacao Ideologica Inadvertida e Diaiogo). 

(2) Herder, Sao Paulo, 1965. 

(3) Haering , op. cit. , pp. 334-335. 


efforts towards a means of preparation and anticipation of a later sacramental profession of faith. If, 
after each fault they repent for the love of God, if they pray in common, and they frequent the divine 
offices, and try in every detail for a Christian way of life, then without doubt, they are in the way of 
light, and even, perhaps, most of the time, in the state of Grace” (1). 

Already in these texts of Father Haering there appear various contradictions. But it is 
particularly significant that, in one of the first paragraphs of the item in which he treats the matter, he 

“It is evident that the principle of the Church according to which divorced persons whose first 
matrimony in the Church (and for this reason before God and the conscience) was valid, HAVE NO 
RIGHT TO A NEW MARRIAGE, continues to be unshakeably certain and that a civil marriage 
contracted by them is not in reality true matrimony” (2). 

2) On September 29, 1965, the vicar-patriarch of the Melchites of Egypt, Bishop Elias Zoghby, 
made in the Council a discourse which caused a sensation, advocating divorce in the case of a young 
person abandoned, without any fault of his own by his spouse (3). Some days later, however, trying to 
undo the scandal caused by his previous speech. Bishop Zoghby spoke once again in the Council. He 
defended the same thesis of divorce, but he made also some affirmations, apparently unequivocal, that 
he adhered to traditional doctrine about marriage, such as the following: 

“I affirmed clearly in my speech (September 29) the immutable principle of the indissolubility of the 
matrimony (...)” (4). 

This indissolubility of matrimony is so anchored in the tradition of the Churches of the Orient and of the 
Occident, both Orthodox as well as Catholic, that it can not be questioned by a speech in the Council. 
The Orthodox tradition, in fact, always considered matrimony as indissoluble as the union of Christ and 
the Church, his bride (...)” (5). 

3) In an article about divorce published in the Revista Eclesiastica Brasileira in 1968 (6), Father 
Eduardo Hoornaert writes, right in the beginning: 

“Catholic thinking in respect to marriage has always repeated the basic and fundamental affirmation that 
the sacrament of matrimony is indissoluble. This affirmation is base on the legitimate interpretation of 
revelation, whose most clear expression is found in the famous text of Mt. 19, 1-12” (7). 

(1) Haerinq , op. cit. , pp. 336-337. 

(2) Haerinq , op. cit., pp. 333-334. - The capitals are ours. 

(3) The full text of this discourse is in Fr. Boaventura Kloppenburq . Concilio Vaticano II, vol. V, pp. 149-151 . 

(4) Kloppenburq , op. cit., p. 188. 

(5) Kloppenburq , op. cit., p. 188. 

(6) “A indissolubilidade do matrimonio na reflexao Catolica apos Trento” - Revista Eclesiastica Brasileira, 28 
(1968) 99-109. 

(7) Hoornaert , op. cit., p. 99. 


In the following pages, however, the author declares that the Apostles and their successors did 
not understand in an exact fashion the evangelical message on the indissolubility of matrimony (1); he 
sustains that in our days erroneous interpretation of this message has reached its peak (2); he insinuates 
that Protestants have something in their favour in their attacks on the Catholic doctrine about the 
sacrament of matrimony (3); he ends proposing “a revision of the regoristic discipline” about marriage, 
since the people are “still incapable of living according to the evangelical requirements” (4). 

As we see, either this position of Father Hoomaert is a fruit of a real cynicism, or it constitutes a 
crass error. In either case, the contradiction into which his Reverence falls is flagrant. 


In view of that which has been said, it will be comprehended that the existence of orthodox 
passages in the Institutio can not be alleged as a sufficient reason to exempt it from any censure. On the 
contrary, the fact that there exist there side by side opposing doctrines, increases the gravity of the 
criticism to be made of this document (5). 

(1) Hoornaert , op. cit. , p. 100. 

(2) Hoornaert , op. cit., p. 100. 

(3) Hoornaert , op. cit., pp. 102-103. 

(4) Hoornaert , op. cit., p. 106. 

(5) It is necessary to establish a general principle here; when one really and sincerely wishes to dissipate the 
suspicions which hang over a text which shows traces of neomodernism, one should not merely put an orthodox 
declaration beside it. Such a measure would only aggravate the ambiguity and cause more confusion among the 
spirits. - But it would be absolutely indispensable to rectify the obscure, equivocal and heterodox passages . It 
would be absolutely necessary , that, in addition to teaching good doctrine in its integrity, one undo the spurious 
unions is between truth and error which characterize Hegelianism, phenomenology and neomodernism. Not to 
act in this way is to give to one’s own children bread mixed with stones, and fish mixed with serpents (cf. Mt. 7, 9- 
10 ). 



The New Text of the Mass and the New Rubrics in the Ordo of 1969 

As we have already observed (1), in this chapter we shall study the new Ordo Missae, that is, the new 
text of the Mass and the rubrics which accompany it. And we shall also analyze certain dispositions of 
the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani which constitute true rubrics, although they are not presented 
with this nomenclature (2). 

The translation into the Portuguese language of the new Ordo is characterized by innumerable 
infidelities, many of which reach the point of offending against dogma. For this reason, there are those 
who have judged that it is only the Portuguese version which is unacceptable, and not the Latin original. 
Such a manner of thinking appears to us to be unfounded. 

Since this is so, in the present chapter we shall study only the Latin text of the new Ordinary of 
the Mass (3), reserving for the chapter which follows some observations about the Portuguese 
translation (4). 

A. Prayers Suppressed and Altered 

In the Ordo of Saint Pius V, the initial Confiteor is said in the first place by the priest, and later by 
the acolyte in the name of the people. This distinction marks clearly the difference which exists between 
the celebrant and the people. In the new Ordo the Confiteor is said simultaneously by the priest and the 
people. Such a modification tends to insinuate an equality between the priesthood of the celebrant and 
that of the laity. 

The absolution given by the priest at the end of the Confiteor (5) was suppressed - another 
innovation which contributes to make less precise the distinction between the hierarchical priesthood 
and the condition of the simple faithful (6). 

In the new Ordo various prayers of the traditional Mass which emphasize the notions of 
humility, of compunction for one’s own sins, of propitiation and the idea that without grace there is no 
perseverance in virtue, do not appear. Thus, in addition to the absolution which we 

(1) Note 1, page 6, - As we have already observed (p. 5), in this chapter, we analyze more especially the Ordo of 
1969, indicating however, when necessary, the modifications introduced in 1970 (which will be studied ex 
professo in chapter IV, on pages 64 ff.). As the reader will see, in 1970 there was made practically no alteration 
in the points of the Ordo of 1969 which we pointed out here as to be taken with reservations. 

(2) Here also we do not pretend to examine the matter in an exhaustive fashion, but only to analyze the most 
significant aspects of the New Mass, which indicate the spirit which it naturally instills into the faithful. 

(3) When necessary, we shall indicate to the reader the Latin expressions themselves; normally we shall present 
only a literal translation of the Latin texts. 

(4) TRANSLATOR’S NOTE - as we have said (p. 5, note 7), we suppressed in this English edition the chapter in 
which the author studied the infidelities of the translation of the Portuguese version of the new Ordo. 

(5) The traditional formula, eliminated in the new Ordo of the Mass, is: “May the Almighty and Merciful Lord grant 
us pardon, absolution and remission of our sins”. 

(6) Other observations about the new Confiteor will be made in the item dedicated to the analysis of the Lutheran 
supper, on pp. 93 ff. 


have just cited, there disappeared the invocations which follow it (1); the prayer Aufer a nobis (2); the prayer said 
by the priest when he kisses the altar (3); part of the prayer Munda cor meum (4); almost all the Offertory (5); part 
of the prayer Perceptio Corporis tui, which preceds the Communion (6); two prayers after the Communion: Quod 
ore sumpsimus (7) and Corpus tuum, Domine (8); and also the supplication Placecit tibi, which closes the sacrifice 


The suppression of these prayers would not perhaps contribute to attenuate the expressions of humility, contrition 
and propitiation, if they had been replaced by others which manifested the same dispositions of soul; or if there 
had been added new and more numerous signs of repentance and adoration such as genuflections, prostrations, 
etc.; or even if the Institutio had presented valid explanations for these suppressions, that would have dissipated 
all the fears raised up by them. But nothing of this was done. On the contrary these magnificent prayers were not 
replaced by others which have the same ideas; almost all the genuflections, inclinations, kisses of the altar, etc. 
were eliminated; the Institutio not only does not give reasons of weight to justify what was done, but even omits 
the idea of propitiation, etc. (10). 

This being the case, the suppression of this group of prayers diminishes in the liturgy - and therefore in Catholic 
life - the expressions of humility, of compunction for the sins committed, of the necessity of grace so that we can 
persevere in virtue. Consequently it weakens, or at least contributes to put in the shadow the propitiatory 
character of the Mass. Now, all of this, in addition to having a certain dissonance with Catholic doctrine, calls to 
mind the ways of thinking and acting frequent in Protestant and Modernist circles. 

The reference to the Holy Trinity disappeared from various passages (11), a fact which tends to debilitate the faith 
in the principal mystery of Revelation (12). 

In the traditional Kyrie each person of the Holy Trinity is invoked three times. Thus is affirmed with particular 
insistence the Trinitarian character of the divine relations. This affirmation was also weakened in the new Ordo 
Missae, in whose Kyrie each Person is only invoked two times. (13). 

B. New Concept of the Offertory 

In its specific characteristics, the Offertory of Saint Pius V, which always constituted one of the principal 
elements which distinguished the Catholic Mass from the Protestant Supper, was suppressed (14). Let us see why 
one can and one must affirm that such suppression has taken place. 

(1 ) “V. - O Lord, looking down upon us, Thou wilt grant us life. 

R. - And thy people shall rejoice in Thee. 

V. - Show us, O Lord, they Mercy. 

R. - And grant us thy Salvation. 

V. - O Lord, hear my prayer. 

R. - And let my cry come unto Thee. 

V. - The Lord be with you. 

R. - And with thy spirit.” 

(2) This prayer is said when the priest goes up to the altar. Its original formula is: “Take away from us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, our iniquities, so that we may 
merit to enter into the Holy of Holies with pure hearts. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen". 

(3) This prayer is especially directed to the Saints whose relics are in the altar: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, by the merits of thy saints whose relics lie here, and 
of all they Saints that Thou deign to pardon all my sins. Amen”. 

(4) This prayer is said before the Gospel. From its text, which we present below, the new Ordo suppressed all that which is in parentheses: “Cleanse my heart 
and my lips, O Almighty God, (who didst cleanse the lips of the prophet Isaias with a burning coal; deign likewise to purify me by thy gracious mercy, ) so that I 
may worthily proclaim thy Holy Gospel. (Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen)”. 

(5) As we shall indicate further on, (pp. 39-47), the new Ordo eliminated the traditional Offertory, replacing it with a simple “preparation of the gifts”, which moves 
it closer to the Protestant liturgy (see especially pp. 43-44). Almost all the prayers which were suppressed affirm markedly the notion of pardon of sins. 

(6) In the traditional text of this prayer, whose beginning we transcribe below, we place in parentheses the words which were suppressed in the new Ordo : “May 
the communion of the Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, (which I, who am unworthy, dare to receive), not be for me a cause of judgement and condemnation (...)". 

(7) “Grant, O Lord, that we may conserve with a pure spirit that which we have received with our mouth, and from a temporal gift, may it become for us an 
eternal remedy". 

In the 1970 text of the new Ordo, this prayer was reintroduced as we say on page 80. 

(8) “May thy Body, O Lord, which I have received, and thy Blood, which I have drunk, penetrate into my inmost parts; and grant that, being restored by these 

pure and holy sacraments, there not remain in me any stain of sin. Thou who livest and reignest world without end. Amen”. 

(9) “May the offering of my service be pleasing to Thee, O Holy Trinity, and grant, that the sacrifice which I, unworthy, offer before the eyes of thy Majesty, be 

acceptable to Thee, and may it by thy mercy be a propitiation for me and for all for whom I have offered it. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen”. 

(10) Seepp. 11 ff. 

(11) In addition to the prayers Suscipe Sancta Trinitas and Placeat Tibi, directed to the Holy Trinity, the Trinitarian invocations which close numerous prayers of 
the traditional Ordo have disappeared: Deus, qui humanae sustantiae, Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, Perceptio Corporis. 

(12) As is obvious, this tendency to not insist on the mystery of the Trinity has dangerous repercussions in eucumenism, favouring a syncretism of a modernist 
flavour with the non-Christian religions. 

(13) On p. 1 03 we show how this modification of the number of invocations of the Kyrie pleases certain Protestants. 

(14) On pp. 96. Ff. We shall analyze in greater detail the position of the Protestants in this matter. 


The true sacrificial oblation which is realized in the Mass is not in the Offertory, but rather in the 
offering which Jesus Christ, at the moment of Consecration, makes of Himself to the Holy Trinity. The 
true victim in the sacrifice of the Mass, is not the bread and wine, or the faithful there present, but Jesus 
Christ Himself. 

This being so, why does the Offertory exist? 

In carrying out a sacrifice, we offer to God a victim in place of ourselves, that is, as a symbol of 
the offering of our own persons to God. This is a fundamental element of every sacrifice. In the Mass, 
it is Jesus Christ who immolates Himself for us. Uniting ourselves to Him, we ought therefore to offer 
Him in place of ourselves, and offer ourselves with Him. 

However, the oblation which Our Lord makes of himself is not visible to us, since He does not 
show Himself in a manner perceptible to the senses. 

It would therefore be convenient that in some sensible form there were expressed, before the 
Consecration, what is the nature of the sacrifice which is going to be carried out, and what are the divers 
offerings which are going to be made. Such are the purposes of the Roman Offertory. 

In it, therefore, is declared in what consists the sacrificial oblation properly so called, as well as 
the offering of ourselves to God. The propitiatory purpose of the Mass is also affirmed. 

It behooves us, then, to make evident these three elements, which, in addition to constituting 
fundamental features of the Roman Offertory, distinguish the Catholic Mass from the Protestant Supper 
beyond the shadow of a doubt. 

1) The oblation of Our Lord really takes place in the moment of the Consecration; but, in order 
that the nature of the sacrifice become manifest from the beginning, already in the Offertory of the 
Roman Missal, there are a group of prayers which make known what will be the true victim and in 
anticipation, offer that victim to the Holy Trinity. 

2) The oblation of ourselves to God, through Jesus Christ, is symbolized by the offering of the 
bread and wine. Secondarily, it is also symbolized by the eventual offering of other material goods. 
Note that such symbolism only becomes effective if the bread and wine, on being placed over the altar , 
are not only presented to God, but are really OFFERED IN A SACRIFICIAL SPIRIT . In other terms, 
the above mentioned gifts are consecrated to God (1). 

3) The Roman Offertory, by means of various prayers, marks the propitiatory character of the 
sacrifice. We shall not explain here this 

(1) Saint Robert Bellarmine : “One ought not to deny that in the Mass the bread and the wine are offered in some manner, and therefore they pertain to that 
which is sacrificed’’ ( De Missa, lib. I, cap. 27, p. 522). - “(...) in the Mass the bread is not offered as a complete sacrifice, but as an inchoative sacrifice and one to 
be completed’’ (ibidem, p. 523). - “The oblation of the bread and the wine which precedes the Consecration pertain to the integrity and the fullness of the sacrifice” 
(ibidem, p. 523). 

Suarez : "(...) Christ instituted and offered this sacrifice as high priest according to the order of Melchisedech; then, in a certain manner He offered the bread 
and the wine, not merely as the matter, but also as the term of the oblation, for such was the sacrifice of Melchisedech” (in III Part., disp. 75, sect. I, n. 9, p. 652). - 
“(...) the bread and the wine are here (in the Mass) offered in a certain manner; they are not however, merely offered in regard to the accidents, but also in regard 
to the substance; therefore, in respect to both, they pertain to that which is offered” (ibidem, n. 11, p. 653). - “We here affirm that the thing which is offered is not 
merely Christ, but also, in a certain way, the bread and the wine. And from thence it does not follow that there be two sacrifices, because these two tings 
constitute the terms a quo and ad quern of the same sacrifice, since the bread becomes the Body of Christ, by whose presence the species are sanctified” (ibidem, 
n. 12, p. 653). 

Cornelius a Lapide . commenting on the passage of Saint Matthew (26, 26) in which one reads that Our Lord blessed the bread before the Consecration, 
writes: “Christ did not bless the Father, as the heretics would have it, but He blessed the bread and the wine” (p. 555). 

Diekamp-Hoffmann (edition of 1934): “In the Offertory of the Mass, the substances of the bread and the wine are offered as a secondary host so that God 
may convert them into the primary host” ( Theol . Dogm. Man. Vol. IV, p. 224). 

C. Calleawert (1943), defending the thesis that in the Offertory there is not a mere preparation of the sacrifice, but rather a true oblation, “a gift made to God 
with sacrificial intent” De offerenda..., p. 70), writes: "As it appears, the first who rose up against this traditional concept of the oblation was Luther. With the 
objective of denying to the Mass the nature of true sacrifice, he reasoned in the following way against the Catholics: nothing can be given to God, who already, of 
Himself possesses everything; therefore, in the Mass there is no sacrifice” (ibidem, p. 70). 

The following express the same opinion: De Luao . De Sacr. Euch., disp. XIX, sect. VIII, n. 99, pp. 208-209; Bossuet . Explication de quelques difficultes ..., 
nn. 36-37, cited by Billot, De Eccie. Sacr., I, pp. 599-600; Pesch . Praelectiones.... Vol. VI, p. 382; Billot , loc. Cit .; Fortescue . La Messe. Pp. 391-392; Gihr . Le Saint 
Sacr. de la Messe, pp. 196, 218-222, 233; Penido . O Mist, dos Sacram., pp. 288-289; Abarzuza . Man. Theol. Dogm., vol IV, p. 280. 

See also: Cone, of Florence . Denz.-Sch. 1320; Junqmann . El Mist, de la Misa, pp. 51-54, 629-671, 741-744; Garrido . Curso de Liturgia, pp. 266-267; and 
also the liturgical texts and the numerous Fathers of the Church cited by the authors whom we indicate: Saint Irenaeus . Tertullian . Oriaen . Saint Cyprian . Saint 
Hypolite . Saint Augustine . Saint Gregory the Great , etc. 


aspect of the Mass, which we have already examined before (1). 

* * * 

These three elements have disappeared in the new Offertory, giving place to a simple 
“preparation of the offerings”, or “presentation of the gifts”, which corresponds to a concept of the 
Offertory fundamentally different from that of Saint Pius V . 

In addition to this, various expressions of other principles which distinguish Catholic doctrine 
from Protestantism were suppressed or attenuated. The allusion to the fall of our first parents was 
eliminated. The invocations of Our Lady, of the Angels and Saints disappeared. The principle that the 
sacrifice must be accepted by God for it to be agreeable to Him became rather unclear. The 
manifestations of compunction for one’s own sins and humility were weakened, as well as the 
affirmation of the hierarchical priesthood of the celebrant. And there is no more any explicit reference 
to the faithful departed. 

All this becomes patent by the comparison, which we are going to make in what follows, 
between the Offertory of Saint Pius V and that of the new Ordo. 

1) The prayer Suscipe Sancte Pater , traditionally said by the celebrant on offering the bread 
does not appear in the New Mass: 

“Receive, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this immaculate host, which I, thy unworthy servant, 
offer to Thee, my living and true God for my innumerable sins, offenses and negligences, for all those 
here present, and for all faithful Christians, living and dead, so that for me and for them it may be 
acceptable for our salvation unto life eternal. Amen”. 

Note that the priest offers the host for the people, in a clear affirmation of his hierarchical function. He 
offers it for all the faithful living and dead, which contradicts the Protestant principle according to which 
the fruits of the Mass are not applicable to those who are absent nor to the dead. All of this prayer, in its 
terms and its style full of unction, speaks of the propitiatory value of the sacrifice. Luther also 
suppressed this prayer in his Mass (2). 

One point merits special attention here: the celebrant offers to God “this immaculate host”. 
Now, the word “host”, which can also indicate here the bread, more properly signifies “victim”; and the 
adjective “immaculate” is not applied so much to the bread as to Jesus Christ, the only truly 
“immaculate host”. 

This being the case, the Roman Missal, at the same time as it offers the bread to God in this 
prayer, indicates, by anticipation, that the true sacrificial oblation will be that of Jesus in the sacrament, 
the “immaculate host”. 

(1) See pp. 39 ff. 

(2) See pp. 96 ff. 


All of this is abominable to the eyes of the Protestants. As the Lutheran pastor L. Reed affirms 
with scorn “the central part of the Offertory Suscipe Sancte Pater , is a perfect exposition of the Roman 
doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass” (1). Luther saw in this and in other prayers of the Offertory an 
“abomination”, which made “everything sound and smell of oblation” (2). And the Protestants have 
also a particular horror of the anticipated offering of Our Lord, which this prayer realizes: L. Reed calls 
this an “anticipation of the consecration” and of the “miracle of the Mass” (3). 

2) Neither does there appear in the new Or do the prayer of the Roman Missal Oferimus Tibi 
Domine, with which the wine is offered: 

“Lord, we offer Thee the chalice of salvation, beseeching they clemency that it rise with a sweet 
fragrance to the presence of thy divine Majesty for our salvation and that of the whole world”. 

As the prayer of the offering of the bread, this constitutes and anticipation, for the “chalice of 
salvation”, in its proper sense, is that which contains the blood of Our Lord. 

Also here one encounters the notion of satisfaction for sins, expressed above all in the humble 
petition that the divine Majesty deign to accept the sacrifice. 

It is to be supposed, therefore, that the reasons which led to the suppression of this beautiful 
prayer are the same which inspired the elimination of the Suscipe Sancte Pater. 

3) These two prayers, of the offering of the bread and of the wine, were replaced by the 

Offering of the bread - “Blessed be Thou, O Lord, God of the Universe, for the bread which we have 
received from thy bounty, fruit of the earth and of the work of the hands of men, which we now offer to 
Thee, and from which will be made for us the bread of life”. 

Offering the wine - “Blessed be Thou, O Lord, God of the Universe, for the wine which we have 
received from thy bounty, fruit of the vine and of the work of the hands of men, which we now offer to 
Thee, and from which will be made for us a spiritual drink”. 

Note that there is not, in these prayers, any reference to the true victim, which is Jesus Christ; to 
the offering of the gifts for us and for our sins; to the propitiatory character of the oblation; to the 

(1) See this whole passage on pp. 96-97. 

(2) We cite and comment on these affirmations of Luther on p. 97. 

(3) We cite the whole text of L. Reed on p. 96. 

In part, the suppression of this prayer, as of various others, is according to the principle of omitting “all that 
which was duplicated in the course of time, or which was added without true necessity” (Const. Sacros. Cone., n. 
50 - see also Const. Apost. Missale Rom., p. 10). 

In relation to this prayer in particular, it is evidently useful, if in no other way, in affirming the Catholic dogma 
against the Protestant heresy. 

On the other hand, the systematic rejection of the duplications and anticipations appears to us to be contrary 
to the traditional mind of the Church. There is no room here for a detailed exposition of the raison d’etre of these 
duplications, of the repetitions and anticipations in every order of being, especially in the doctrine and in the life of 
the Church. We should observe only that the metaphysics and the theology of repetition, as well as of 
anticipation, are that which explains the theory of the prefigures, the post-figures, the contratypes; which form the 
essentially traditional foundation of the Church; which make intelligible the liturgical cycle whose phases return 
again every year; which justify the litanies and so many other prayers in which one same idea, always old and 
always new, is said numerous times to nourish the piety of the faithful and to express the immutable eternity of 
God. - In resume, we believe that only Protestant rationalism would be able to condemn the repetitions and the 
anticipations as such. 


hierarchical priesthood of the celebrant; to the principle that the sacrifice must be accepted by God in 
order to be agreeable to Him. On the contrary, the expressions “which will be made for us the bread of 
life” and “which will be made for us a spiritual drink” insinuate that the true essential end of the Mass is 
our spiritual nourishment - a thesis which approaches one of the heresies condemned in Trent, as we 
have indicated (1). 

This being the case, these new prayers modify substantially the very sense of the offering of the 
bread and wine . The commentators of the B.A.C. (2) explain in the following terms this profound 
change in the concept of the Offertory: 

“It is not only the text which is new, but also its sense. It is a question of a prayer to bless, in a joyful 
exclamation in the presence of the symbol. It is here an ascending blessing which is directed to God and 
which consists in praising Him. Why do we praise God at this moment? For the creature of the bread. 
WE DO NOT ASK THE BLESSING OF GOD OVER THE BREAD. The bread which we receive from 
the generosity of God is the true descending blessing, because it communicates to us strength, life and 
energy. The blessing - grace, life, fecundity (3) - which comes from God, we pay back to Him, we 
return to Him, in the sense and in the measure in which, by praise, we recognize that it proceeds from 
God. (...). 

Supported by the innumerable biblical texts which call God “blessed” for the marvels which He does - 
and united to these texts - we bless Him in the moment of the presentation of the bread which will be, 
by means of the consecratory prayer, “bread of life”, WE DO NOT OFFER BREAD TO GOD, but 
rather we bless Him by the bread. To God we offer the Body and Blood of Christ - the eucharistized 
bread” (4). 

The final affirmations of the transcribed text according to which we do not offer the bread to 
God merit emphasis. Undoubtedly, the sacrificial oblation which constitutes the essence of the Mass is 
that which Jesus Christ makes Himself. But we also offer ourselves to God, in union with Our Lord; 
and according to the common doctrine the bread is offered to God as an expression of the oblation of the 
priest, of the faithful present and absent, and in a word of the whole Church. To deny therefore the 
offering of the bread is to deny the offering to God of our own persons, of our good works and penances. 
It is also to deny that the other faithful, present and absent, and the whole Church, offer themselves to 
God the Father in every Mass, in a sacrificial and propitiatory spirit. This point requires a little 
explanation, in addition to that which was given before (5). 

Even Protestants admit the propitiatory character of the sacrifice of the Cross, that is, they 
recognized that Jesus died in order to remit our sins. The error of the Protestants in this matter is in 

(1) See p. 13. 

(2) We refer to the book Nuevas Normas de la Misa, indicated on p. 6. 

(3) Note the naturalism of this concept: The “true descendent blessing” is the bread, which brings us “strength, 
life and energy”. In the following enumeration, the “grace” appears alongside the “life and fecundity”; it is not 
clear, therefore, that it is a question of a supernatural grace. 

On the other hand, the phrase “We do not ask for the blessing of God over the bread” is founded upon a radically 
Protestant conception of the Offertory, as we shall indicate further on, on pp. 96 ff. 

(4) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 39. - The capitals are ours. 

(5) See pp. 39 ff. 


with the manner in which the merits of Christ are applied to us. They say that only faith saves, that is, 
that our good works and sacrifices, are not necessary in union with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ. 

According to Catholic doctrine, we must as it were complement in ourselves that which was 
lacking in the sufferings of Our Lord (Coloss. 1, 24). By our good works and mortifications done with 
the help of grace, we must apply to ourselves, as well as to other men, and to the faithful departed, the 
merits of Christ. We must, then, offer ourselves to God. 

But that offering of ourselves, of our good works and penances only has meaning if it be realized 
in union with the redemptive sacrifice of the Cross. For only the death of Christ constitutes a condign 
sacrifice for our sins. 

On the other hand, God desired that the application to men of the merits of the sacrifice of 
Calvary be made by means of the Masses, celebrated daily in all the world until the end of time (1). 
Being the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Mass is also propitiatory, in as much as 
Our Lord, really present as a victim, offers Himself again to God the Father. In that way, the merits and 
satisfaction of the Passion are applied, according to the designs of Providence, to those for whom the 
Mass is offered. 

This being the case, our good works and penances must be offered daily to God the Father in 
union with all the Masses which are celebrated in that day, and specially those which we have said for 
our intention, or at which we assist. 

This union of the faithful with Christ who offers Himself to God the Father in each Mass is 
symbolized by the bread and the wine offered on the altar, as we have already observed (2). For this 
reason, this offering has a character of oblation, and sacrifice. It is not only a “presentation of the gifts”, 
but it is an oblation made in a propitiatory spirit, while the true victim, in the sacrifice of the Mass, is 
Our Lord, and not the bread and wine. To deny that we really offer to God the bread and wine, as a 
sensible and sacrificial expression of the offering of ourselves, of our good works and penances, would 
lead to denying that the sacrifice of Christ needs to be as it were completed by us. 

This error is one step away from the negation of the very propitiatory character of the Mass. For, 
if the sacrifice of the Cross does not need to be completed by ours, one does not see how to justify the 
daily renewal of the propitiatory sacrifice of Calvary. 

It is true that the affirmation that “we do not offer bread to God” appears only in the commentary 
of the B.A.C., and not in the text of the new Orclo Missae. However, in this particular, the 
commentators of the 

(1) For this reason it is said that the sacrifice of the Cross is in the objective order of redemption, and that the 
Mass is in the subjective order of redemption, that is, that of the application to men of the merits obtained by Our 
Lord on the Cross (see, in this respect, Lercher , Instit. Th. Dogm., vol. IV-2-1, p. 307). 

(2) See p. 40. 


B.A.C. emphasize the tendency which is implicit, but present, in the New Mass. 

Indeed, according to what we have already noted (1), all the propitiatory expressions were 
eliminated from the new Offertory; its title was changed to “preparation of the offerings” (2); and, above 
all, the new prayers of the offering of the bread and the wine, which we are analyzing, insinuate that it is 
a mere offering-presentation (3), and not a propitiatory offering. 

In addition, the employment, by the Institutio and by the Ordo, of terms such as “offer”, 
“oblations”, etc. does to invalidate the cited observation of the commentators of the B.A.C. Really, 
these terms have, in the context, a sense which at least does not exclude the interpretation according to 
which “we do not offer bread to God”. 

On the other hand, we have already noted (4) the equivocal meaning of the final expressions of 
the two new prayers in which are offered the bread and wine: “it will become for us the bread of life”, 
and “it will become for us a spiritual drink”. In respect to these, the commentators of the B.A.C. write: 

“Observe that the Ordo Missae changed the sense of this rite, for the direct sense of offering was 
changed to a simple presentation of and placing upon the altar of the gifts which we be “bread of life and 
drink of salvation” (5). 

4) In the traditional Offertory, before mixing the water with the wine, the priest blesses it, at the 
same time as he pronounces the prayer Deus qui humanae substantiae . In the Ordo of 1969, this 
blessing disappeared, and in the aforementioned prayer were eliminated the phrases which we place in 

“(O God, who has wonderfully formed the dignity of human nature, and even more wonderfully 
reformed it, grant us,) by the mystery of this water and wine, that we become (6) participators of the 
divinity of Him who designed to take upon Himself our humanity (, Jesus Christ, thy son Our Lord, who 
lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God world without end. Amen)”. 

In addition to the elimination of the blessing of the water and of the reference to the Holy 
Trinity, it is to be noted that the topic referring to the Redemption, the essential finality of the 
Incarnation, has disappeared. And that is one more modification tending to debilitate dogma, turning the 
New Mass also acceptable for non-Catholics. 

5) The following prayer stayed in the new Ordo : 

(1) See pp. 40 ff. 

(2) Neither do the terms employed by the Institutio indicate a true sacrificial oblation, but rather a “preparation of the offerings” or a 
“presentation of the gifts”: Praparatio donorum (“preparation of the gifts” - nn. 48, 49, 53), dona afferuntur (“the gifts are brought” - nn. 49, 
50), afferuntur panis et vinum (“the bread and the wine are brought” - n. 48), oblationes afferuntur (...), praesentantur (...), super altare 
deponuntur (“the offerings are brought (...), are presented (...), are placed on the altar”) - n. 49, usquedum dona super altare deposita sunt 
(until the gifts have been placed on the altar” - n. 50), dona in altari colocata (“the gifts place upon the altar" - n. 51), depositione oblatorum 
facta (after the offerings have been deposited” - n. 53). 

The word “Offertory” appears in various paragraphs of the Institutio (numbers 1 7, 50, 80c, 100, 133, 1 66, 1 67, 221 , 235, 324). This is not 
enough however, to give the traditional sense of offering of this part of the Mass, proof of which is the fact that the Protestants do not reject the 
term “Offertory” (see pp. 96 ff. ). 

(3) In this point, the translators of the Ordo to Portuguese, were unfaithful to the letter of the original Latin, but not to its spirit, for they 
translated offerimus for apresentamos (“we present”). 

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE - See the observation which we made on page 5, note 7, on the chapter of the Portuguese original of this work, in 
which the author studies the Portuguese translation of the New Mass. 

(4) See pp. 42 ff. 

(5) Nuevas Normas... pp. 125-126. - The translation of potus spiritualis as “drink of salvation” is one more infidelity of the translation. 

(6) The elimination of the phrases indicated demands that the verb esse of the traditional text to be here replaced by efficiamur. The 
modification would be empty of doctrinal importance, if it did not flow from the suppression of the explicit petition: “grant us”. As it appears in 
the new Ordo, the prayer is only optative, and therefore less expressive than the text of petition of the traditional Ordo. 


“In a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart, may we be received by Thee 0 Lord, and may our 
sacrifice be so offered today in thy sight, as to please Thee, O Lord, Our God”. 

The words “spirit of humility” and “contrite heart”, taken from the prophet Daniel (3, 39) are not 
enough to express the Catholic principles about the pardon of sins in such a way as to differentiate us 
from the Protestants (1). 

The term “sacrifice” appears here in a text in which it does not become clear that it is a 
propitiatory sacrifice. 

6) Another prayer which has been eliminated: 

“Come, o Sanctifier, almighty and eternal God, and bless this sacrifice prepared for thy Holy Name”. 

Note that the petition that God “bless this sacrifice” seems to scarcely agree with the idea that 
“we do not ask for the blessing of God over the bread” - an idea that, according to the commentators of 
the B.A.C. (2), presided over the preparation of the new Offertory. 

7) All the prayers which accompany, in the Orclo of Saint Pius V, the incensation of the 
offerings and of the altar were eliminated. Thus it is that the priest no longer blesses the incense, nor 
does he invoke Saint Michael the Archangel and all the elect nor does he offer the incense to God, etc. 

8) In the Lavabo , the verses from Psalm 25 were replaced with the following invocation from 
Psalm 50: 

“Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity, and purify me from my sin”. 

In itself, this modification does not appear to have doctrinal consequences; however it constitutes 
one more measure which breaks with the liturgical tradition of many centuries (3). 

9) The prayer to the Holy Trinity was eliminated: 

“Receive, O Holy Trinity, this oblation which we offer to Thee, in the memory of the Passion, 
Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in honour of the Blessed ever Virgin Mary, of 
the Blessed Saint John the Baptist, of the Holy Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, of these (the martyrs 
whose relics are in the altar) and of all the Saints, so that 

(1) Seep. 97. 

(2) See the text which we cite on p. 43. 

(3) In the Lutheran Supper there are various references to sin: see p. 95. 


it may serve to their honour and to our salvation, and so that they whose memory we celebrate on earth 
may deign to intercede for us in Heaven. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.” 

This prayer emphasizes that the sacrifice of the Mass is offered to the most Holy Trinity. If, 
besides its elimination, we consider the already indicated reduction of the number of invocations to the 
most Holy Trinity (1), we can really fear that the new Ordo leads to a lessening of faith in the principal 
Catholic dogma. 

Note that thus also was suppressed the prayer of intercession directed to Our Lady and to the 


10) The new Offertory conserved the Orate Fratres and its respective response: 

“Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours become acceptable before God the Father almighty. 

R. - May the Lord receive this sacrifice from thy hands, for the praise and glory of his name, and also 
for our good and for that of all his Holy Church”. 

This prayer mentions the sacrifice, but it in no way indicates that it is a propitiatory sacrifice (2). 

Here is conserved an allusion to the priestly function of the celebrant, in the distinction between, 
“my” sacrifice and “thy” sacrifice; for this reason we say (3) that the new Offertory weakened the 
affirmation of this doctrinal principle, suppressing the oration Suscipe Sancte Pater (4), but it did not 
eliminate it entirely. 

A similar fact occurs with the principle that the sacrifice must be accepted by God for it to 
become agreeable to Him; the petitions in this sense were eliminated in various prayers (5), but they 
remained in the prayer In spiritu humilitatis (6) and in the Orate Fratres : “may it become acceptable. . .”, 
“receive O Lord...”. 

C. The First Eucharistic Prayer or the Roman Canon 

The new Ordinary of the Mass has four “Eucharistic Prayers”, to be selected by the priest 
according to the rules expounded in the Institution n. 322. The first Eucharistic Prayer, or Roman Canon, 
may always be used. 

(1) See p. 39. 

(2) We call to mind that Protestants admit that in the Mass there is realized a sacrifice, but without a propitiatory 
character (see p. 92). 

(3) See p. 41. 

(4) See the observation to the same effect on pp. 42 ff. 

(5) See pp. 41 (Suscipe Sancte Pater), 42 ( Offerimus Tibi), 46 (Per intercessionem), 46-47 (Suscipe Sancta 
Trinitas ). 

(6) See p. 46. 


Considered superficially, the Roman Canon appears to have suffered only unimportant 
modifications. A more attentive analysis reveals however that the alterations introduced tend in general, 
at times in a subtle manner, to conform the text to a conception of the Eucharist as a simple agape 
carried out by the community, under the presidency of the celebrant, in commemoration of the Passion 
and Resurrection of Our Lord. 

As we shall see from that which follows, it has thus become a Canon which can now no longer 
be called Roman. 

* * * 

In the Mass of Saint Pius V, there is a clear typographic separation between the narrative part of the 
Consecration and the words which realize the transubstantiation. To mark off in an unequivocal 
manner, that these latter are said affirmatively, in persona Christi, and not merely narratively, the former 
text terminates with a period. Thus it becomes clear that at that moment the priest starts to speak in the 
name of Our Lord. In addition to this, the phrases in which are found the words of consecration are 
printed in bold-face type. 

In the new Ordo, the text before the words of Consecration terminates with a colon. And, 
although the bold-face type is conserved in the phrases of the Consecration properly so called, new 
clauses were added, so that a much larger number of words not essential to the transubstantiation appear 
in bold-face type. As is obvious this is one more measure which easily leads to the idea that the 
Consecration is nothing more than a historical narration of the institution of the Eucharist (1). 

So that the reader can distinguish these modifications of a typographical order introduced in the 
Consecration, we reproduce the traditional text and the new one (2): 

(1) On pp. 14 ff. We indicate other manifestations of the same tendency in the New Mass. 

(2) We give a literal translation, preserving even the capitals and small letters of the Latin text. We do not 
transcribe the rubrics. 



“Who, the day before he suffered, took bread into his 
holy and venerable hands and lifting up his eyes to 
heaven to thee, God his Father almighty, giving 
thanks to thee, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to 
his disciples saying: Take ye all and eat of this. 


In like manner, after he had supped, taking also this 
precious Chalice into his holy and venerable hands, 
likewise giving thanks to thee, he blessed it, and 
gave it to his disciples saying: 

Take ye all and drink of this. 



As often as you shall do these things, in my memory 
shall you do them”. 


“Who, the day before he suffered, took bread into 
his holy and venerable hands and lifting up his eyes 
to heaven to thee, God his Father almighty, giving 
thanks to thee, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to 
his disciples saying: 


In like manner, after he had supped, taking also this 
precious chalice into his holy and venerable hands, 
likewise giving thanks to thee, he blessed it, and gave 
it to his disciples saying: 




As one can also observe, the phrase which follows the Consecration of the wine was replaced. 
Note how the new text, “do this in memory of me”, is less distant from the idea that the Mass is a mere 
commemoration, then the original text was: “as often as you do this, you will do it in memory of me”. 

One ought to emphasize that the new text of the Consecration, resulting from the modifications 
which we have just pointed out, is not in itself unacceptable. In Oriental Catholic liturgies, for example, 
one encounters the punctuation adopted by the new Ordo, one encounters the phrase “which will be 
handed over for you” annexed to the formula of the Consecration of the bread, etc. - What ought to be 
considered with reservations is the fact that all these alterations have been made tending to move the 
Roman Canon closer to the new concept of the Mass expressed in the Institutio. In other terms: The 
new texts of the canon called Roman, although they are in themselves acceptable, are however less clear 
than the ancient ones; and the fact that the central part of the Mass has become less distant from 
Protestantism, tends to create confusions which are inadmissible and extremely harmful for the faith. 

Also in the Canon which is called Roman, twenty-four “Signs of the Cross” made by the celebrant were 
suppressed (1); the reverential inclinations were reduced from five to three, the genuflections from six to 
two; the two kisses of the altar were eliminated. They are, all of them, modifications which in 
themselves tend to debilitate the sacral nature of the Mass, with the consequent repercussions on faith in 
the Real Presence, in the sacrificial character of the Mass, in the transcendency of God, etc. 

* * * 

Introducing the narration of the Supper, we find in the new Ordo the following rubric: 

“In the formulae which follow, the words of the Lord will be pronounce in a clear and audible fashion, 
as the nature of the same requires” (2). 

This prescription, which holds also for words of the Consecration properly so called, appears to 
us to be extremely grave: 

1) On the one hand because it makes the Catholic Mass similar to the Suppers of Zwingli (3), 
Luther (4), etc.: 

2) On the other hand, because the rubric indicated not only determines that this central part of 
the Mass be read aloud, but it adds that this is required by the very nature of the words. Now, this 
ultimate assertion has already been condemned by the Church, as we indicated on treating of a similar 
disposition which appears in number 

(1) Of the twenty-six “Signs of the Cross” prescribed by the traditional Roman Canon there remained only two: in 
the prayers Te igitur and Supplices. The sign of the Cross made during the Sanctus was also eliminated. 

(2) “In formulis quae sequuntur, verba Domini proferantur distincte et apert, prouti natura ecrundem verborum 

(3) See pp. 87-88. 

(4) See pp. 99-100. 


12 of the Institutio (1). 

And let no one say that, in the aforementioned rubric, the conjunction prouti (as) is employed in 
a merely proportional sense, that is, only indicating that the words which follow ought to be said aloud 
“in the measure that” it is required by the nature of each one of them. Such an interpretation, in addition 
to violating the context and taking away all reason for the existence of the rubric itself, is formally 
denied by the same number 12 of the Institutio. 

* * 

The invocation of the greater part of the Apostles and Martyrs whose names appear in the traditional 
Mass is made optional (2). 

The reference to the mediation of Jesus Christ between us and God the Father in the Mass itself, 
also ceased to be obligatory in various prayers (3). This modification contributes to move the Mass 
closer to the liturgy of the Protestants. Indeed, according to these latter the Mass is not a true 
propitiatory sacrifice, it is not a true renewal of the immolation of Our Lord on the Cross, but a simple 
commemorative agape of the Last Supper. In such a heretical conception, the acceptation by God the 
Father, of each new Mass, would not be necessary. One could undoubtedly ask God that He accept this 
commemorative banquet, but such acceptation would not require the sacrificial mediation of Our Lord. 
This being the case, there would be no reason for the particular insistence with which the Roman Missal 
affirms that the prayers of the priest rise to the eternal Father “through Jesus Christ, Our Lord”. 

* * * 

According to the new Ordo, immediately after the Consecration the people must make an acclamation, 
for which there are three texts. Two of these end with the expression “until you come”: 

“We announce your death O Lord, and proclaim your Resurrection, until you come”. 

“As often as we eat this bread and drink of this chalice we announce your death, O Lord, until you 

Undoubtedly, the expression “until he comes” is from Saint Paul ( I Cor. 11, 26 ), and therefore 
in itself can not be censured. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians, it indicates the expectation of the 
second coming of Jesus. - However, placed immediately after the Consecration, when Our Lord has just 
come substantially to the altar, this expression can lead one to think that He is not present , that He has 
not come personally under the eucharistic species. Such an innovation, above all if made in an epoch in 
which there is in Catholic 

(1) See p. 17. 

(2) In the prayers Communicantes and Nobis quoque peccatoribus of the Ordo of Saint Pius V. 

(3) The invocations “through Christ, Our Lord, Amen” or “through the same Christ, Our Lord, Amen”, have 
become optional at the end of the prayers Communicantes, Hanc igitur and Supptices te rogamus, and the 
memento of the dead. 


circles a shocking tendency to deny the real presence, has as an inevitable consequence the favouring of 
a lessening of faith in the transubstantiation. 

D. The New Eucharistic Prayers 

One of the principal novelties in the Orclo of 1969, if it is compared with the traditional one (1), 
is the addition of three new Eucharistic Prayers to the Canon called Roman. For this reason, a true 
“Canon” has ceased to exist in the Mass, that is, an exclusive rule according to which one must celebrate 
the sacrifice. Thus, the new liturgy calls all these prayers, the Roman Canon inclusively, “Eucharistic 
Prayers” (2). 

We shall indicate in that which follows, some of the principal characteristics of the three new 
Eucharistic Prayers. 

In the traditional Canon, the consecration of the bread is preceded by the following words: 

“the day before He suffered, He took bread into his holy and venerable hands and, lifting up his eyes to 
heaven, to Thee, God his almighty Father, He gave Thee thanks, blessed it, broke it and gave it to his 
disciples saying: Take ye all and eat of this”. 

In the new Roman Canon, this text was conserved, with only the modifications of punctuation, 
and of the typographical order, which we have already indicated (3). In the three new Eucharistic 
Prayers, this passage underwent profound and significant alterations. 

Expressions which put into relief the sacred and most holy character of the act which is going to 
be carried out were eliminated. Thus it is that it only says that Our Lord took the bread without even 
mentioning his sacred hands. The phrase “lifting up his eyes to heaven” was omitted. The loving 
reference to God the Father - “to Thee, God his almighty Father” - 

(1) Even before the Ordo of 1969, Paul VI already had introduced an identical modification in the Roman Missal, 
writing three new Eucharistic Prayers, which could be substituted for the traditional Canon. 

(2) On p. 100 we indicate that the Protestants preferred the nomenclature of “Eucharistic Prayer” to that of 

On pp. 93-94 and 99 we show that Luther , who proclaimed so much the necessity of restoring the Mass of 
Apostolical and Evangelical times, also wrote new prayers for his Supper. 

3) See pp. 48 ft. 


was suppressed in the second Eucharistic Prayer, and replaced by a laconic “to Thee” in the third, and by 
“to Thee, Holy Father” in the fourth. 

* * * 

In general lines, the words of the traditional Roman Canon which immediately precede the 
consecration of the wine, were conserved. But there were introduced into these latter some important 

In addition to the alterations of punctuation and of a typographical order already cited, and in 
addition to the suppression of the words “in his holy and venerable hands”, the expression “this precious 
chalice” was simplified also to “the chalice”. This innovation is more important than it might seem. On 
one hand, the elimination of the adjective “precious” (praeclarus ) is one more desacralizing measure. 
And on the other hand - here is a point which is especially grave - the fact that now the chalice is not 
indicated as “this” favours the theories according to which the priest does not act in persona Christi, that 
is, as representative of Our Lord. This point requires some explanation. 

The Institutio, as we have already seen, is not sufficiently explicit in relation to the principle that 
the priest pronounces the words of the Consecration exclusively in persona Christi (1). Now, in the text 
which we are examining, the traditional Mass uses one more symbolic recourse to indicate that the 
words of the transubstantiation are pronounced in the name of Our Lord himself: the chalice which the 
priest has in front of him is indicated as if it were that same most sacred chalice in which Jesus Christ 
for the first time converted the wine into his precious Blood. The elimination of this symbolism so 
strong, so rich, so vivid, is one more measure which, in the concrete order, will tend to debilitate the 
faith in the principle that Our Lord, the principal sacerclos in all Masses, is in them ministerially 
represented by the celebrating priest. 

In the new Eucharistic prayers, as in the new Canon which is called Roman, the number of Signs 
of the Cross made by the priest is minimal, as well as the number of reverential inclinations and 
genuflections. The kisses of the altar were also eliminated entirely. 

* * * 

(1) See pp. 15 ff. 


The rubrics command that also in the new Eucharistic prayers the words of consecration be said 
aloud, “as their nature requires”. 

* * 

In the new texts the invocations of the Apostles and Martyrs by name disappeared completely, 
and were not simply made optional. 

The references to the mediation of Our Lord, almost all of which were made optional in the new 
Roman Canon (1), are reduced even more in the three new Eucharistic Prayers. 

* * 

The last of these prayers “contains a resume of the whole History of salvation”, and must be used 
preferentially “for those groups of faithful who have a more profound knowledge of the Sacred 
Scriptures”. That is what is said by the Institutio, in number 322d. If, however, we analyze its prayers 
with care, we will not be able to avoid the impression that it is a text which will make possible future 
ecumenical celebrations with non-Catholics, especially with Protestants. This being the case, one may 
fear that extremely progressive priests may judge that “the faithful who have a more profound 
knowledge of the Sacred Scriptures”, to whom the Institutio refers, are the Protestants. 

Let us analyze some passages of this Eucharistic Prayer. 

According to the rubrics, it does not have any mementos for specific departed persons. The 
reason for this strange disposition is given in laconic terms by the Institutio, in its number 322d: 

“In this Prayer, owing to its structure, it is not possible to insert a special formula for one of the 

It is difficult to comprehend why the “structure” of a Eucharistic Prayer can not admit of a 
special mention of specific dead persons. The concrete fact is that this rubric makes the text acceptable 
to the Protestants, who deny the applicability of the Mass to the dead. 

And let it not be said that the Fourth Eucharistic Prayer has a general reference to the departed, 
which would be enough to distinguish it from the Protestant Supper. For such a vague reference would 
not be rejected by the followers of Luther, since they deny the applicability of the fruits of the Mass to 
the faithful departed, but they do not deny that we may remember them in our prayers (2). 

Indeed, the reference to the dead which exists in this fourth Eucharistic Prayer is vague enough, 
and emphasizes that we pray not only for the faithful departed. Here are its terms: 

“Remember also those who have died in the peace of thy Christ, and all the dead whose faith Thou alone 

(1) We allude to the fact that in the Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus Christ is the mediator between God the Father 
and ourselves. This mediation is indicated above all by the formula “through Christ, Our Lord”, as we have 
observed on p. 51. 

(2) See Reed , The Lutheran Liturgy, pp. 314, 345. 


As one sees, it intercedes for those who, although they have not died in the peace of Christ, 
however have been saved because they had a faith which was only known to God. The formula is one to 
cause perplexity, for while it is susceptible of an orthodox interpretation, it tends however to salve the 
consciences of those who do not wish to belong to the Catholic Church: perhaps they have a “faith” 
unknown to men but known to God. 

The formula employed by this fourth Eucharistic Prayer to intercede for the living is no less 

“And now be mindful, O Lord, of all those for whom we offer Thee this oblation: in the first place, of 
thy servant, our Pope N; our Bishop N.; of the universal college of the Bishops; and also of all the 
clergy, those who offer, those present, and all thy people, and all those who seek Thee with a sincere 

Once more, we have here a formula which can be interpreted in an orthodox sense, but which is 
ambiguous and dangerous; for it insinuates that a vague and general “sincerity” in “seeking” God is a 
sufficient condition for salvation (1). 

* * * 

In conclusion; as a general rule, all that which in the first Eucharistic Prayer, imitating the traditional 
Roman Canon, sounds bad to Catholic ears, is found to an even more accentuated degree in the three 
new Eucharistic Prayers. 

In other terms, the new Canon which is called Roman probably will be used only by certain traditionalist 
priests who do not like the Eucharistic Prayers which have been composed. And the progressive priests 
will probably celebrate only the new Eucharistic Prayers, in such a way that these latter will end, in 
practice, by supplanting the Canon which is called Roman, making it fall into disuse. 

Furthermore, the introduction of the new Eucharistic Prayers opens the way for further innovations, and 
already in itself constitutes a blow against Tradition, which saw in the Canon of the Mass an inflexible 
norm for the most sacred act of the Sacrifice which is realized there. 

E. The Rite of Communion 

In the rite of communion, the Ordo of Saint Pius V marks very clearly the distinction which exists 
between the priest and the people. 

* * * 

(1) The existence of this insinuation is undeniable, for otherwise one would not be able to explain why we do not 
pray for all men in general. 

Furthermore, in no passage of this fourth Eucharistic Prayer is it emphasized that the Mass is offered in the 
first place for Catholics. - In the Summa Theotogica, III, 79, 7, 2, Saint Thomas explains the dogmatic reason for 
which “in the Canon of the Mass one does not pray for those who are outside the Church”. 


Thus, for example, the priest prepares himself for the communion with his own prayers, said in 
the first person singular and distinct from those which precede the communion of the faithful. He 
receives Our Lord under two species, while the faithful communicate only under the species of bread. 
When the priest receives the Blood of Christ, the acolyte says the Confiteor, after which the celebrant 
gives the absolution to the people, in an act which expresses clearly his priestly mission. The examples 
could be multiplied. 

In the Ordo of 1969, various of these signs which distinguish the celebrant from the people were 
suppressed. And there were introduced new prayers and rites tending to confound the priesthood of the 
priest with that of the faithful. 

The cases in which it was permitted to the faithful to communicate under two species were 
greatly amplified. 

The Confiteor and the absolution which precede the Communion of the people were abolished. 

The number of prayers preparatory for the Communion which are said only by the priest and in 
the first person singular diminished substantially. There are nine of them in the traditional Roman 
Missale, and only four in the new Ordo (1). Of these four, only three are really prayed by the celebrant 
in each Mass (2). And even this number is considered excessive by the progressives, who would have 
liked to make the position of the priest as much as possible equal to that of the faithful; thus it is that the 
commentators of the B.A.C. (3), for example, write: 

“As far as the existence of these private prayers of the celebrant is concerned, one should remember that 
they were a devotional product of the Middle Ages and that in general, being due above all to the epoch 
in which they appeared, they are decadent duplications. For this reason, during the gestation of the 
reform there were strong pressures, coming above all from the better liturgists, to bring about a total 
suppression of these obligatory private prayers: we believe that this would have represented a liturgical 
advance. Indeed, if there are not private prayers prescribed for the faithful, why does the celebrant have 
to be bound to fixed formulas of private prayers? Would he be considered less capable than the faithful, 
to, for example, prepare himself personally for communion, therefore one would like to oblige him to 
recite fixed formulas? (4) It is possible, and it is to be hoped for, that with the progress of liturgical 
culture, these prayers will tend to disappear. Indeed - and this is one of the best aspects of the Institutio 
and of the reform which derives from it - they have diminished notably” (5). 

* * 

(1) These nine prayers are: Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti; Domine Jesu Christe, Fill Dei vivi; Perceptio Corporis ; Partem coelestem\ 
Domine, non sum dignus; Corpus Domini nostri; Quid retribuam; Sanguis Domini nostri and Corpus tuum. 

Of these nine prayers, three were eliminated: Panem coelestem, Quid retribuam and Corpus tuum; one came to be said in the first 
person of the plural: Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti ; and one became common to the priest and to the people, who recite it simultaneously: 
Domine, non sum dignus. 

There remain, therefore, only four prayers which are recited only by the priest, and in the first person of the singular: Domine Jesu 
Christe, Fili Dei vivi, Perceptio Corporis, Corpus Domini Nostri, and Sanguis Domini Nostri. - In reality, these four are reduced to three, as we 
shall indicate in the note which follows. 

(2) Indeed the new Ordo prescribes that, in each Mass, the priest must not recite the prayers Domine Jesu Christe, 

Fili Dei vivi and Perceptio Corporis, but only one of them, according to his own choice. 

(3) We refer to the work Nuevas Normas de la Misa - See p. 6. 

(4) As is evident, the question is not in any way the capacity of the priest to prepare himself personally for the 

Communion. That, furthermore, he can do before the Mass, and it is highly recommendable that he do so. Here, another question is under 
consideration: everything which the celebrant does during the Mass has, in greater or lesser degree, a public and official mark. In virtue of his 
priestly character, and his condition as representative of Jesus Christ and of the Church, even his private acts are inserted into the sacrificial 
action as something radically distinct from the acts of devotion practiced by the people who assist at the Mass. 

These truths cannot be unknown to the commentators of the B.A.C. and the would-be great liturgists referred to by them. 

We believe that the true reason which moves the commentators of the B.A.C. to adapt the position indicated is on p. 19, where we pointed out 
how they confound the hierarchical priesthood with that of the people. 

(5) Nuevas Normas..., pp. 89-90, note 13. 


The communion of the priest is not any longer made with his own rite, distinct from what 
corresponds to the faithful, but rather he is only the first among those who communicate (1). This 
modification corroborates the impression which the new Ordo gives, that the priest is no more than the 
president of the assembly. 

* * * 

The new rite of the kiss of peace introduced among the acts preparatory for the communion 
merits special attention. The priest says: “Give the peace to one another” (2), and those who are present 
salute one another with a handshake, an embrace or other type of salutation, to be determined by the 
Episcopal Conferences “according to the customs and the character of each people” (3). 

It is not necessary to emphasize how such a practice, in the desacralized and sensual milieu of 
our days can lend itself to abuses. From that point of view, there is no way to compare the “rite of 
peace” introduced by the new Or do with the analogous ceremonies of the Oriental liturgies and the 
primitive Church. This, however, is not the aspect which we wish to emphasize most in this innovation. 

We wish above all to call the attention of the reader to the fact that the salutation established by 
the Ordo of Paul VI does not start from the priest, but each one of those present gives it to his 
neighbour. The commentators of the B.A.C. explain it to us: 

“Note that, according to the new rubric, each one gives the kiss of peace to those who are at his side, and 
he receives it from them without waiting for it to come from the altar, as used to be done. Thus is 
restored a more ancient custom and the time of duration of the kiss of peace is reduced” (4). 

In another passage, the same commentators of the B.A.C. recognize that this manner of 
proceeding has an explanation more profound than that of simple archaism or a mere love of brevity. 
They write: 

“It is neither necessary nor convenient that the salutation of the peace come from the celebrant; but all 
the faithful must give it mutually, each one of them to the one who is at his left and his right. The 
Christian peace is an effect of the Holy Spirit, who is in all the faithful” (5). 

This affirmation takes on no small gravity. Undoubtedly, the Holy Spirit dwells in every soul that is in 
the state of grace, and moves it to the love of God and of its neighbour. However, it is necessary to keep 
in mind that we are here at Mass, in which we receive special grace not in virtue of the common action 
of the Holy Spirit in 

(1) The only difference between the communion of the priest and that of the people is in the words which are said 
before the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. For his own Communion, the priest says, respectively: 
“May the Body of Christ keep me unto eternal life” and “May the Blood of Christ keep me unto eternal life”. Before 
the communion of each of the faithful, he says: “The Body of Christ”; and also when they communicate under two 
species, “The Blood of Christ”. 

(2) Offerte vobis pacem. 

(3) Institutio, number 56b. 

(4) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 174. 

(5) Nuevas Normas ..., pp. 41-42. 


souls, but rather in virtue of the sacrifice of Christ which is truly renewed on the altar by the ministry of 
the priest. On explaining that the salutation does not need to come from the priest because the Holy 
Spirit “is in all the faithful”, the commentators of the B.A.C. insinuate once more that the priesthood of 
the celebrant is not essentially different from that of the people (1). 

Moreover, the “peace” expressed in the new rite is not presented clearly as being the result of the 
reconciliation between heaven and earth, effected by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ; but it 
appears rather to come from the people itself, as a result of the mere fraternal and human solidarity 
which unites all those present. 

* * * 

As we have already pointed out in a previous section, the part of the prayer Perceptio Corporis 
tui which contains an act of humility (2), was suppressed. And moreover the prayers Quod ore 
sumpsimus (3) and Corpus tuum, Domine, which express so well the notions of humility, and 
compunction for one’s own sins, and that without grace, there is no perseverance in virtue were also 
suppressed (4). There were also eliminated various invocations of the most Holy Trinity (5), 
genuflections (6), “Signs of the Cross” (7), reverential kisses and inclinations (8), as well as references 
to Our Lady and the Saints in the prayer Libera nos, quaesumus (9). 

F. Other Modifications in the Rubrics 

In addition to the modifications which have already been pointed out, there were introduced numerous 
alterations in the rubrics of the Mass. Without any attempt at presenting an exhaustive study, we 
indicate below some of them (10). 

* * * 

The genuflections, both of the priest as well as of the people were almost all eliminated. Except in 
certain extraordinary cases, such as the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament on the altar, there 
remain only three genuflections of the priest (n 233) and one of the people (n 21). In relation to the 
genuflection of the people, which takes place at the moment of Consecration, the Institutio says: 

“Let them kneel at the Consecration, if the lack of space or the great number of people or 
other reasonable causes do not make this impossible” (number 21). 

(1) On this matter, see the observations which we make on pp. 15 ft. Many are the other passages, in 
which the commentators of the B.A.C. refer in words which are at least suspicious, to this presence of God among 
the faithful. In reference to the chant, for example, they say: 

“One can affirm that the communal chant is a sign of true participation, for all the voices flow together in 
one sole and grand sonorous reality, which makes one feel the unity and perceive the presence of God” (Nuevas 
Normas ..., p. 60). 

See also, in the same work, pp. 31-32, 34, 82, 87, 91, 172-173. 

(2) Note 6 of p. 39 

(3) This prayer was reintroduced in 1970: See p. 80. 

(4) Notes 7 and 8 of p. 39. 

(5) Note 11 of p. 39. 

(6) See pp. 58-59. 

(7) See the observation of p. 39 on the reduction of the external signs of worship. 

(8) See p. 39. 

(9) Compare with pp. 86-87, 95. 

(10) As is obvious, the new rubrics to which we shall refer in this item do not all merit the same reserve, as 
it is also 

obvious that in their ensemble, they represent a very accentuated departure from the Tradition which was 
consecrated in the Mass of Saint Pius V. 


Does the enunciation of such restrictive clauses - which are understood by good sense, and for 
this same reason are superfluous, - not really constitute an invitation for the faithful not to kneel even at 
the Consecration? It is in this sense that the commentators of the B.A.C. interpret them, saying that, 
according to their point of view, the fact of the assembly being numerous is sufficient to suppress the 
genuflection (1). 

Following the same line, the pamphlet edited by Vozes (2) for the use of the faithful in following 
the Mass, whose text was organized by the National Secretariat of the Liturgy of the National 
Conference of the Bishops of Brazil (C. N. B. B.), purely and simply indicates that at the Consecration 
the faithful may either kneel or remain standing (3). 

We see therefore that the new rubrics eliminate in the Latin rite, almost completely, the 
genuflection - that physical attitude so appropriate to symbolize adoration, humility and penance, and 
the spirit of supplication! (4). 

Innumerable prescriptions with which the traditional Mass surrounded the treatment of the 
Eucharistic species were suppressed. All of these were ordered to express the respect for our 
sacramental Lord, and to avoid the loss of small consecrated particles, or to avoid that these be 
inadvertently subjected to less dignified treatment. 

Thus it is that if a particle falls on the ground, no longer does one proceed to the ceremony of the 
purification of the spot ( Institution N 239). 

The fingers of the priest no longer must be purified in the chalice after the communion. But it is 
enough that, 

“when some fragment of the host has adhered to his fingers (...), the priest clean them over the paten, or 
if it is necessary, he washes them” ( Institutio , number 237). 

The obligation of the priest to hold the tips of his forefingers and thumbs together from the 
Consecration until the purification was suppressed - a rubric that in the Roman Orclo aimed above all at 
expressing the supreme veneration with which the sacred species must be touched. 

The purification of the sacred vessels over the altar is no longer prescribed; that may be done 
after the Mass, and “if possible”, in the credence ( Institutio , numbers 238, 120). 

* * 

Except in the case of fixed altars the use of the altar stone for the celebration of Mass is not 
obligatory ( Institutio , number 265). 

(1) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 100. 

(2) TRANSLATOR’S NOTE - In respect to the Publishing House Vozes, see note of p. 8. 

(3) “Ordinario da Missa”- Vozes, Petropolis, 1969, p. 22. 

(4) On the genuflection, in the Sacred Scripture, see: III Kings, 19, 18; I Esdr. 9, 5; Is. 45, 23; Dan. 6, 11; Mat. 
17,14; 27, 29; Luk. 5, 8; Mark 1, 40; 15, 19; Rom. 11, 4; 14, 11; Phil. 2, 10; Eph. 3, 14. 


Observe that this ultimate disposition in itself tends to facilitate Masses celebrated in private houses, to 
which they wish to give the exterior appearances of simple banquets. 

* * * 

The deacon may take part in the sacred functions without using the dalmatic, and the subdeacon 
without using the tunic appearing therefore only with an alb ( Institutio , number 81). Where there are 
many concelebrants the impossibility of obtaining chasubles in a sufficient number or other difficulties 
may make them dispensable for the priests themselves, the requirements only continuing for the 
principal celebrant ( Institutio , number 161). 

* * * 

The Institutio determines that, in consideration of the nature of the sign, not only the wine but 
also the bread “should appear to be really food” (1) for which reason it is appropriate that the bread 

“be made in such a way that the priest, in the Mass with the people, really can divide the host in divers 
portions and distribute them at least to some of the faithful” (number 283). 

The commentators of the B.A.C. obey therefore the dispositions of the Institutio when they 
present, with abundant details about the manner of preparation, a recipe for a loaf of coarse bread 
weighing 20 gr. and 12 millimeters thick (2). 

* * * 

The new rubrics tend to diminish the number of Requiem Masses. 

As is prescribed in number 316 of the Institutio , the priest, in order to not omit many biblical 
readings indicated in the lectionary, 

“will be restrained in the selection of Requiem Masses, since ANY MASS IS OFFERED AS MUCH 
FOR THE LIVING AS FOR THE DEAD, and in all the Eucharistic prayers there is a momento for the 
departed” (3). 

Undoubtedly it is desirable for the faithful to have Masses said, not only for the dead: but also 
for the intentions of the Church militant. And this was always done. If in the matter of Requiem Masses 
there is any excess to correct, it is dangerous to make it in the name of the principle that “any Mass is 
offered for the living as well as for the dead” - for such an assertion, not expressing the entire truth, 
tends to dampen in the faithful the holy desire to have Masses said for certain deceased and for the souls 
in general (see II Mac. 12, 41-46). 

(1) On the modifications introduced in 1970, in this paragraph of the Institutio, see what we shall say on pp. 79- 

(2) Nuevas Normas pp. 260-261 . 

(3) The capitals are ours. 


Number 337 reduced the number of Requiem Masses permitted and number 340 abolished the 
absolutio super tumulum in the Masses in which the body is not physically present. 

It is no longer necessary for the cross to be over the altar (n. 79, 84, 236b, 270) 

* * * 

When there is communion under two species, the faithful are obliged to receive it standing ( 
number 244c, 244d, 245b, 245c, 246b, 247b, 249b). In the communion which is given only under the 
species of bread it is not determined what will be the posture of the faithful (number 56, 1 17). 

* * * 

Only one cloth is required to cover the altar instead of three as formerly (number 79). 

* * * 

With the authorization of the Episcopal Conferences, the readings, except that of the Gospel, can 
be made by women (number 66). And “the ministries exercised outside the sanctuary ( presbyterium ) 
can be confided to women” (number 70). 

* * * 

The Blessed Sacrament will normally be in some place other than on the altar on which the Mass 
is celebrated (number 276). 

* * * 

Any artistic style is in principle permitted in the construction of churches and the making of 
objects of worship (numbers 254, 287) (1). And great liberty is granted in regard to the form of the 
sacred vessels (number 295). 

* * * 

Finally we wish to call the attention of the reader to the festive and busy character which the 
New Mass takes on. 

Many are those who exercise special functions during the Mass (see Institution numbers 65-73): 
in addition to the priest (or the priests when there is a concelebration) and the deacon and the subdeacon, 
there is a commentator, a reader (who can be a woman), a psalmist, the master of ceremonies, the ushers 
(in charge of receiving the faithful at the 

(1 ) The commentators of the B.A.C. reach the point of suggesting that old churches “of excessive luxury” be transformed into museums, and 
that sacred objects of “great beauty” be “retired from worship and placed in museums or adapted to other liturgical uses” (Nuevas Normas 
pp. 63-64). 


door of the church and leading them to their places, those in charge of the collection, the thurifers, the 
candle-bearers, those who in the entrance procession carry the Missal, the cross, and possibly the bread, 
the wine and the water. There may even be more than one deacon, subdeacon, commentator, reader and 
psalmist. The functions exercised outside the sanctuary ( presbyterium ) can be entrusted to women, as 
we have already indicated (1). There is also the cantor or master of the choir (numbers 64 and 78) and 
the schola cantorum (numbers 64 and 274). 

On the other hand, there will be two processions: the entrance procession which will be carried 
out both in the common Masses ( Institutio , number 82) as well as in those which are concelebrated 
(number 162); and that of the Offertory (numbers 49-50), in which the people will carry to the altar the 
bread, the wine, the water and eventually also the other gifts for the maintenance of the poor and of the 

In addition to this, there will be the acclamations and responses of the people ( Institutio , number 
15); the chants, which are given great importance (number 19); the explanations and admonitions 
(numbers 11, 18); etc. In various points a great liberty in the selection of prayers and rites is left to the 
celebrant (2). 

In number 66, the Institutio recommends that the reader be someone capable and prepared for 
that function, 

“in order that the faithful on hearing the divine readings, may conceive in their hearts a sweet and lively 
affection for the Holy Scriptures” (3). 

All of this, as one sees, is oriented to give to the Mass the tone of a festive agape, of a pleasant 
commemoration - and not of the propitiatory sacrifice, in which the Son of God immolates Himself for 
the sins and ingratitude of men. 

Another significant expression of this aspect of a carefree and pleasant banquet which they want 
to give to the Mass, is that of the commentary of the B.A.C. on number 280 of the Institutio. We read 
there, first of all, that the “temple should have good visibility”; that the lights should be placed in such a 
fashion as to create “psychological rest” and “an atmosphere agreeable to the eyes”; and that the 
disposition of the seats should be such that the faithful see the sanctuary well and also can see one 
another; that “in the temple cleanliness ought to stand out above all else (sic!)” (4). 

The same commentators of the B.A.C. go on to write: 

“Attention should also be paid to the question of odours both to avoid the bad ones (...), as well as 
perfuming the area discreetly, before commencing large meetings, with one of those products which are 
sold in such abundance and so economical nowadays, 

(1) Institutio, number 70. 

(2) Commenting on this point, Bishop Clemente Isnard, O.S.B .. the National Secretary of Liturgy of the C. N. B. B., writes: 

“The General Instruction which begins the new Roman Missal fixes new perspectives, very different from those which inspired the old 
body of rubrics. The guide line is flexibility, which frequently confers opportunities of selection on the celebrant. HE CEASES TO BE A MERE 
new Ordo Missae- in “Presbiteral”, Vozes, Petropolis, p. 5; and “Liturgia da Missa”, Edicoes Paulenas, Sao Paulo, 1969, p. 3. The capitals 
are ours). 

(3) Although it be evidently very desirable that the Scripture readings be made clearly and worthily, we cannot fail to emphasize that in the 
context of the new Ordo expressions like “conceive in their hearts a sweet and lively affection for the Holy Scriptures” take on a Protestant 
flavour. On pp. 81 ff. we indicate the Lutheran concept on the effects of the biblical readings in the spirit of the faithful. 

(4) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 258. 


which are used habitually by the men of today, in other meeting places such as theatres, cinemas, 
concert halls and conference chambers, etc. 

Where it is possible, it would be of great pastoral efficacy to have a vestibule, hall, porch or 
something similar, arranged with relative comfort, where persons can meet one another on entering and 
leaving, exchange a few words, rest, wait for one another, buy a magazine or even take a refreshing 
drink in a small bar. These human signs admirably prepare and prolong the liturgical sign, and they 
give, both to the pastor as well as to the people, a good opportunity of meeting one another” (1). 

G. Conclusion 

For the reasons which have been presented, we do not see how to avoid the conclusion that in 
conscience it is impossible to accept the 1969 texts of the New Mass. 

We leave however for the end of this study (2) - when we will have already analyzed the 
modifications introduced in 1970 and other theoretical and practical questions which it behooves us to 
consider - a more circumstantial appraisal of the attitude to be taken in respect to the New Mass. 

(1) Nuevas Normas..., p. 259. - Among progressive writings, it is not easy to find texts which demand in such a 
clear manner the transformation of the churches into profane and desacralized environments. Indeed, in the 
passage which we have just cited, the house of God is conceived of as a mere banquet hall. It is no wonder that 
in view of this the people prefer to frequent other banquet halls, which are more attractive, thus leaving the 
churches empty. 

(2) Seepp. 214 ff. 



Modifications Introduced in the Ordo of 1969 

In May of 1970 the Latin edition of the new Roman Missal was published. In it the Institutio and the 
Ordo of 1969 appear with numerous alterations which we must analyze in the present chapter. 

* * 

The reform of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1969 was not improvised, according to a 
declaration of Paul VI (1), but resulted from long and profound studies. In view of this declaration, as 
well as the very importance of the material, one can be sure that there was not here any proposition 
which had not been carefully weighed: not only from the theological point of view, but also from the 
pastoral point of view given the predominantly pastoral preoccupations of this Pontificate. 

It does not cease therefore to cause a certain surprise that such documents have undergone, 
shortly after their promulgation, numerous modifications - which the Holy See must have considered 
necessary or at least convenient, either from the theological or pastoral point of view, or from the point 
of view of both. 

These facts impose for the studious person a very special circumspection in the analysis of the 
amendments introduced, obliging him to employ the greatest application and perspicacity in the 
examination of each one of them. This is what we shall endeavor to do in this chapter, to the limit of our 

1. The Principal Features of the Prologue of the Institutio 

In an article published in the magazine Notitiae of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship 

about the reform of the Ordo of 1969, the Secretary of that Congregation, Father Anibale Bugnini, 


“The Prologue is completely new and is notably long (...). It emphasizes three concepts: a) the History 
of the Roman Missal, especially from the Council of Trent until the II Vatican Council, to justify the 
modifications introduced into the Missal according to the indications of the ultimate Ecumenical 
Council; b) the 

(1) Constit. Apost. Missale Romanum, ed. Typica, pp. 8-9. 


theological and ritual fidelity of one and the other Missal to the doctrine of the Church; c) the criteria 
which presided over the reform” (1). 

This Prologue expresses without doubt considerable preoccupation in enunciating certain 
teachings of Catholic doctrine which were lacking in the Institutio, or that were not well exposed. It 
insists on the principle of the ministerial priesthood of the celebrant; it refers to the real presence of Our 
Lord in the Eucharist and to the transubstantiation; it contains numerous citations from the Council of 
Trent; it affirms divers times the sacrificial character of the Mass; it declares that in it there is a 
sacramental renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross; in one article it says explicitly that the Mass is a 
propitiatory sacrifice; it professes repeatedly the purpose of maintaining itself faithful to Tradition; etc. 

A hurried reading of these passages of the Prologue could lead one to believe that it corrects all 
the imprecisions, insufficiencies and doctrinal deviations which were being pointed out in the New 
Mass. However, an attentive consideration of these same passages, as well as the other items of the 
Prologue, and even of the Institutio in its present edition, unhappily do not justify one thinking that the 
modifications now introduced result in a substantial alteration in the observations which we made 
previously about the New Mass. 

2. The Priesthood of the People 

Indeed, in the very passages of a traditional flavour, in which the Prologue affirms points which were 
previously passed over in silence or expressed in a dubious way, we encounter formulations altogether 
insufficient or even subject to grave reservations. Let us see some examples. 

In item 4 we read: “The nature of the ministerial priesthood, proper to the priest - who in the place of 
Christ (in persona Christ i) offers the sacrifice and presides over the assembly of the holy people - 
makes itself manifest, in the very form of the rite, by means of a greater eminence of the position as well 
as of the function of the priest. The principles of this function are expounded and are clearly and more 
fully explained in the thanksgiving of the Mass of the Blessing of the Holy Chrism, on Holy Thursday, 
the day on which is commemorated the institution of the priesthood. For this text emphasizes the 
conferring of the priestly power which is realized by the imposition of hands; and, enumerating each of 
its functions, describes this same power which is a continuation 

(1) Father Buqnini , “De editione Missalis Romani instaurati”, in Notitiae, n. 54, p. 161. 


of the power of Christ, the High Priest of the New Testament”. 

On the one hand, it is true that in the text under analysis it is affirmed that the celebrant acts in 
the place of Christ (in persona Christi), and that his power is a continuation of the priestly power of Our 
Lord (1). 

On the other hand, however, the text establishes a certain dangerous parallelism between the 
“offering of the sacrifice” and the “presiding over the assembly of the holy people”, for this second 
function, while truly priestly, is however secondary, accidental and a simple consequence of the first. 
Even if there were not an “assembly of the holy people”, in the Mass the celebrant fully exercises his 
priestly function. The emphasis thus given to the “presidential” role of the priest in the Mass, favours in 
the faithful the impression that the sacrifice is celebrated equally by him and by the priest (2). 

Furthermore, that passage does not exclude the heterodox interpretation which the commentators 
of the B.A.C. (3), for example, give to the principle that the priesthood of the celebrant is “ministerial”. 
According to these authors the priest is essentially “minister”, that is, representative and servant both of 
Our Lord - a truth which is here affirmed as well as of the people , having for this reason a dignity not 
superior to that of the faithful (4). 

Therefore, granted the context of the Institutio, granted the criticisms which have rightly been 
made of it on this point, and granted the erroneous interpretations which have arisen, it would be 
suitable and even indispensable that the Institutio , in its corrected version, had eliminated once and for 
all this very dangerous error, which completely subverts the doctrine about the Catholic priesthood. It 
would be necessary to affirm not only the ministerial character of the priesthood but also its hierarchical 
nature, which places it essentially above any representation of Christ existing in the people or which 
proceeds form the same people. 

* * * 

Item 5 of the Prologue takes on an even greater gravity, above all because of the fact that in it are 
confirmed the apprehensions provoked by the previous item. Here are its words: 

“But by the consideration of this nature of the ministerial priesthood, there is also placed in its true light, 
another reality of great importance, that is to say, the royal ( regale ) priesthood of the faithful, whose 
spiritual sacrifice is consummated by the ministry of the priests in union with the sacrifice of Christ, the 
only Mediator. Indeed, THE CELEBRANT 

(1) On pp. 16 ff., we show that in the context of the Institutio, expressions such as in persona Christi are 
insufficient to indicate the manner by which the priest represents Our Lord in the Mass. 

(2) See, in this respect, that which we write on pp. 1 5-1 9, as well as that which we say right afterwards, on item 5 
of the Prologue. 

(3) We are referring to the authors of Nuevas Normas de la Misa, the work indicated on p. 6. 

(4) See pp. 19-21. 


OF THE EUCHARIST IS THE ACTION OF THE WHOLE CHURCH (1); and in that action, each one 
should do only and all that which behooves him, having in view the position which he occupies in the 
people of God (2). For this reason, greater attention has also been paid to certain aspects of the 
celebration, of which in the course of the centuries less care had been taken. Really, this people is the 
people of God, acquired by the blood of Christ, reunited by the Lord, nourished with his word: A 
people which gives thanks, in Christ, for the mystery of salvation, OFFERING HIS SACRIFICE; a 
people finally, which by the communion of the Body and Blood of Christ increases in its unity. This 
people, while holy in its origin, nevertheless continuously increases in its sanctity by the same 
conscious, active and fruitful participation in the eucharistic mystery” (3). 

When we consider carefully the terms of this item 5, we see that they reaffirm, and in a clear 
way, the conception of the priesthood of the people, which we previously have pointed out as 
unacceptable (4). 

Indeed, what are these “aspects of the celebration which in the course of the ages had been less 
cared for at times”? One of these is the fact that the holy people is “called to carry to God the prayers of 
the whole human family”. Another, is the fact that this people “gives thanks, in Christ, for the mystery 
of salvation, offering his Sacrifice"! 

As one sees, we return to the same imprecisions and ambiguities which already existed in the 
previous text of the Institutio and in the respective commentaries of the B.A.C.. For, although one can 
say, in a broad and analogical sense, that the simple faithful “carry to God the prayers” of the others, and 
that “they offer the sacrifice of Christ”, however these expressions indicate, in their proper sense, only 
the specifically priestly mission of the celebrant, in which the Prologue intends to insist (5). 

Otherwise, this passage establishes a strange distinction between the “people of God” and the 
“human family”. For it says that the former, by the priestly action which it exercises in the Mass, carries 
to God the prayers “of the whole human family”. Taken in its natural sense, this expression indicates 
that the “people of God” exercise a function of mediation properly priestly between the whole human 
race - here including the non-Catholics, the non-Christians, the atheists, etc. and God. 

Even more: since the phrase which follows immediately attributes to this same “people of God” 
the faculty of “offering the Sacrifice of Christ”, it appears that through the Mass are presented to God 
and made agreeable to Him the prayers of all men taken indiscriminately, that is, 

(1) The “celebrant of the Eucharist” in its proper sense, is exclusively an action of Christ and the priest who, in 
the Mass, represents Him. In the Encyclical Mediator Dei, Pius XII condemned the proposition according to which 
“the Eucharistic sacrifice is an authentic concelebration of the priest together with the people present (A. A. S., 
1947, p. 553) 

The faithful can and ought to unite themselves to the celebrant in the offering of the Victim which is 
immolated, and in this sense the Mass is really an action of the whole Church. But the offering made by the 
faithful is essentially distinct from that of Our Lord. One can not say, in any sense, that because of this offering 
the simple faithful become authentic “celebrants" of the Mass. 

There is no doubt, that in an analogous sense, the term “Celebration” may have broader acceptations, so as 
to insinuate that to the faithful pertains a function of “celebration” properly so called. For this reason, the phrase 
under analysis - “the celebration of the Eucharist is an action of the whole Church” - is shown to be ambiguous 
within the context of item 5 of the Prologue. 

(2) As one can see, this is exactly the concept enunciated by the commentators of the B.A.C., which we cite on 

pp. 20-21. 

(3) The capitals are ours. 

(4) See note 1 of p 67, as well as pp. 15-21. 

(5) The Prologue insists on this point in its item 4, on which we comment on pp. 65-66. 


inclusively the non-Catholics, the non-Christians, the polytheists, the atheists, etc.. Such a conception of 
the Mass is all the stranger since it agrees with a certain heterodox ecumenism which is spreading in 
large sectors of the Catholic public. 

In view of all these dangerous ambiguities, in section 5 of the Prologue, the fears which we 
expressed above in regard to item 4 are aggravated. Indeed, in this latter, not only the silence about the 
hierarchical character of the ministerial priesthood of the celebrant, but also the absence of a clear 
conception of the representation of Christ by the priest , favour and prepare for an erroneous notion of 
the priesthood of the faithful. 

3. Return to the Norms of the Holy Fathers 

Items 6 to 9 of the Prologue seek to demonstrate that the new Ordo Missae is not opposed to the 
traditional Catholic principles, in particular those enunciated in Trent, but rather it confirms them. 

In defense of this thesis, the document alleges that the II Vatican Council ordered that some rites 
“be restored according to the ancient norms of the holy Fathers” (1) - this an expression which is found, 
Ip sis litteris, in the Apostolic Constitution Quo Primum, with which Saint Pius V promulgated the 
Tridentine Missal. 

To the authors of the Prologue, this point of extrinsic resemblance appeared sufficient to 
demonstrate that the New Missal follows the same tradition as that of Saint Pius V. And this in such a 
degree, that in the following lines they do not occupy themselves in demonstrating that the New Mass is 
in accordance with the Tridentine teachings, but they limit themselves to declaring that the Ordo of Paul 
VI succeeded in “restoring the ancient norms of the Holy Fathers” in a more perfect manner than did 
that of Saint Pius V. This being the case, the affirmations made, in the previous items of the Prologue, 
about the transubstantiation, the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the Mass, etc., remain as it were 
in the air, without any effort to demonstrate that these principles are not contradicted by the passages of 
the New Mass which are being pointed out as opposed to the doctrines of Trent (2). And now they insist 
on an extrinsic element, which is the purpose of restoring the rites according to the norms of the Holy 

In what terms does the Prologue seek to prove that the Mass of Paul VI, like that of Saint Pius V, 
obeyed this purpose? 

As is patent, so great are the differences between the two Masses, 

(1) Item 6 of the Prologue. 

(2) As we have said on pp. 25-37, in order to save a text from the accusation of heterodoxy, it is not enough to 
prove that it contains the truth, but it is above all necessary to demonstrate that it does not contain the errors of 
which it is accused. For doctrinal deviations are frequently presented in juxtaposition, and at times even 
amalgamated with truths which are contrary to them. 

As is evident, the Prologue can not be expressed in polemic terms. But it is equally clear that even in non- 
polemic style, it is possible to confute objections raised up against a document. 


that the principal difficulty which the authors of the Prologue faced, consisted in explaining how it was 
possible that the same rule led to results which were so different . In other words: how was it possible 
that the bare purpose of restoring the rites according to the norms of the Fathers of the Church, led to 
such different manners of saying the Mass? 

Giving a first response to this question, the authors of the Prologue write: 

“In those really difficult times in which the Catholic faith about the sacrificial character of the Mass, 
about the ministerial priesthood, about the real and permanent presence of Christ under the eucharistic 
species, was placed in danger, to Saint Pius V it was important, above all, to conserve the most recent 
tradition, unjustly attacked, and thus, he only introduced minimal modifications in the sacred rite” (1). 

In the following items, the Prologue affirms that, since the ancient liturgies are much better 
known today, than they were in the XVI Century, it has become possible to reform the Mass in a much 
more profound manner (2). All of this brings it about that the Ordo of Saint Pius V has been “perfected” 
by that of Paul VI “in a notable and happy way” (3). 

4. Do These Errors Not Exist Today? 

The insinuation that today it is not necessary to conserve the traditional rite because now the dogmas 
Relative, to the sacrificial character of the Mass, to the ministerial priesthood, and to the real presence 
are not in danger as they were in the times of Saint Pius V, is sufficient to cause perplexity (4). 

We do not know how one can deny this way that which is public and notorious, that is to say, 
that large and influential sectors of Catholic opinion, in the most divers countries, accept and propagate 
the most grave errors, about the principal points of the eucharistic doctrine - and, in particular, about 
those points which the Prologue affirms are not questioned today by anyone. 

In order not to refer to, in this matter, the documents of Pius XII (5) - which condemned 
numerous practices which have been adopted by the new Ordo - we shall mention only some of the 
most recent facts. 

In the Encyclical Mysterium Fidei, September 3, 1965, Paul VI declares that the errors that are 
going about in respect to private Masses, the transubstantiation, eucharistic symbolism, etc. are for him 
“causes of grave pastoral solicitude and anxiety” (6). The same document insists on 

(1) Item 7 of the Prologue. 

(2) Items 7 to 9 of the Prologue. 

(3) Item 6 of the Prologue. 

(4) Further on the Prologue alleges that one can now celebrate in the vernacular, “granted that there could be no 

who would deny that the sacred rite celebrated in Latin is legitimate and efficacious” (item 12). And it says also 
that “today the doctrinal principles about the full value of communion received only under the species of bread are 
absolutely not questioned” (item 14). 

The composers of the Prologue appear not to take into consideration in any way, the harmful influences that 
the new 

Ordo can have on non-Catholics; for it is incontestable that the errors pointed out exist at least among them. In 
the epoch of ecumenism in which we live, it is indispensable to present the doctrine of the Church in a clear way, 
both to those who are her sons as well as to those who are not, for only thus will it be possible to avoid dangerous 
misunderstandings, which in the concrete order necessarily redound to the deformation of the principles of the 

(5) Encyclical Mediator Dei, November 20, 1947 (A. A. S., 1947, pp. 548-580); Instruction of the Holy Office in 
sacred art, July 30, 1952 (A. A. S., pp. 542-546); Allocation, November 2, 1954, on occasion of the proclamation 
of the Feast of the Royalty of Our Lady (A. A. S., 1954, pp. 666-677); Allocution, September 22, 1956, to the 
participants in the International Congress on Pastoral Liturgy, met in Assisi (A. A. S., 1956, pp. 711-725). 

(6) A. A. S„ 1965, p. 755. 


the “distinction not only of degree, but of essence”, between the hierarchical priesthood and that of the 
faithful (1). Would Paul VI have, in this Encyclical, attacked heresies which no one presently 

The Dutch Catechism and those like it of other countries fall into the same errors (2). 

How can one deny that the so highly regarded Father Schillebeeckx, for example, proposes the 
notions of “transfinalization” and “transfiguration” in terms which are irreconcilable with the doctrine of 
the Church (3) and which have already been condemned by Paul VI (4)? 

How can one deny that in the very Consilium ad Exsequendam Constitutionem de Sacra Liturgia 

(5), now replaced by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, there was anyone who embraced the 
aforementioned errors? Indeed, according to what we have already shown at length and with 
documentation, the work Nuevas Normas de la Misa, whose principal author was an expert of the 
Consilium , professes sometimes clearly, sometimes in a veiled way the same doctrinal deviations (6). 

We have already manifested how surprised we are that in the documents introducing the New 
Mass only the favourable aspects of the liturgical movement of the time of Pius XII, are pointed out, 
while the very grave errors which infected large sectors of the movement (7), and which led the Pope to 
write the Encyclical Mediator Dei are passed over in complete silence. Now the authors of the Prologue 
of the Institutio affirm that such errors do not exist. A scientific and objective analysis of these 
pronouncements oblige one to conceive the hypothesis that the authors of the Prologue have become 
involved in a known and dangerous dialectic process: they admit in thesis that certain doctrines are 
heretical, but they deny that in concreto there is anyone who professes them; and from thence they go on 
to an action which both in the order of ideological propaganda, as well as in practical life, redounds in 
favouring or even in promoting the error (8). 

Add to this the fact that the non-existence of such doctrinal deviations is alleged, by the Prologue 
(9), as a reason why they are introducing into the Mass innovations which Saint Pius V rejected, because 
since the same deviations existed then they would have gravely prejudiced the faith. Therefore, granted 
that similar errors exist today - as they obviously do - the arguments of the writers of the Prologue 
testify against their very authors. 

5. Adaptation To Present-Day Conditions 

As we have already observed (10), the Prologue insists that the new Orclo follows the Council of 
Trent because, like the latter, it seeks to 

(1) A. A. S„ 1965, p. 761. 

(2) See, for example, in the Brazilian edition of the Dutch Catechism (O Novo Catecismo, Herder, Sao Paulo, 
1969), the passages on the real presence (pp. 397-399) and on the priesthood of the faithful (pp. 403-404). - See 
also the commentaries in this respect of Father Candido Pozo. S. J ., in El Credo del Pueibo de Dios (B.A.C., 
Madrid, 1968), pp. 177 ff.; and of Cunha Alvarenqa , “Pedras e serpentes para as almas que pedem pao”, in 
Catolicismo, n. 231 , of March 1970. 

(3) Schillebeeckx , “Transubstanciacao e transignificacao”, in the Revista Eclesiastica Brasileira, 26 (1966) 286 ff. 

(4) Encyclical Mysterium Fidei, A. A. S., 1 965, p. 755. 

(5) About this organ of the Holy See, consult the brief explanation which we give in note 4, p. 4. 

(6) On the importance and the influence on the book Nuevas Normas de la Misa, see what we write on p. 6. 

(7) See on pp. 4-5, the commentary on the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum. 

(8) On the manner by which this dialectical process was realized in the epoch of Jansenism, see what we write 
on pp. 31-32. See also: D. Antonio de Castro Mayer , Carta Past. Sobre Problemas do Apostolado Moderno, p. 7; 
J. Carrevre , article “Jansenism”, in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, cols, 488-489. 

(9) Item 7, See the commentaries which we make in relation to this matter on pp. 68 ff. and 71-72. 

(10) On p. 68. 


restore the rites according to the ancient norms of the Holy Fathers. 

The argument is insufficient. The return of the norms established by the Fathers of the Church is 
a simple material criterion, which would be formally specified by the orientation according to which the 
patristic texts are interpreted, according to which the passages to be introduced into the liturgy are 
selected, etc. 

Thus it is that Pius XII condemns the efforts of some who, to “re-adopt certain ancient rites and 
ceremonies” (1), end by “reviving the excessive and insane archeologism raised up by the illegitimate 
Council of Pistoia and (...) by renewing the multiple errors which were the premises of that council and 
which follow from them” (2). 

In the same sense, D. Gueranger pointed out the demands for the “rights of antiquity” as one of 
the tactics employed by “all the sectarians” to destroy the real liturgical traditions and thus introduce 
their new forms of worship - which in reality will not correspond to the ancient traditions (3). 

On the other hand, it is known that an expression legitimately used by a Father of the Church can 
become in a later epoch one which favours heresy, by virtue of the circumstances. This is what happens, 
for example, with the expression of Saint Augustine “faith saves”, which the Protestants have abused, 
interpreting it in a sense which is irreconcilable with good doctrine (4). 

Now, as we have already pointed out, the reform of 1969 established a worship tending to 
desacralization, to confusion between the hierarchical priesthood and that of the people, to putting on an 
equal footing the “Liturgy of the word” and the “eucharistic liturgy”, to a break, in the final analysis, 
with traditional rites and customs among the most venerable. 

What is there in common between this reform and that of Saint Pius V? - Unhappily, only the 
material and extrinsic elements which consists in the formulation, both by Saint Pius V and by Paul VI, 
of the purpose of restoring some rites according to the Norms of the Fathers. . . 

Sensing the necessity of explaining even better the fact that this restoration has been made in a 
manner so different in one case than in the other (5), the writers of the Prologue dedicated to this matter 
the six final items of the document (6). 

“When the Fathers of the II Vatican Council - we read in item number 10 - repeated the dogmatic 
affirmations of the Council of Trent, they spoke in a very different epoch of the life of the world; for this 
reason, in pastoral material they were able to establish purposes and directives which COULD NOT 

As we see, the expression which is used is so strong, that it shows that the authors of the 
Prologue had a very radical notion about the 

(1) Encyclical Mediator Dei, A. A. S., 1947, p. 545. 

(2) Encyclical Mediator Dei, A. A. S., 1947, p. 546. 

(3) D. Gueranger , Institutions Literguques, tome I, pp. 417-418. 

(4) See our article “Nao so a heresia pode ser condenada pela autoridade eclesiastica” - Catolicismo, n. 203, 
November 1967. 

(5) On pp. 68-69 we have already indicated a first explanation which the Prologue tries to give to this fact. 

(6) Items 10 to 15. 

(7) The capitals are ours. 


distance which separates the documents of Trent from those which determined the recent liturgical 

In the following items they try to explain that, in the actual conditions, there no longer existing 
the errors of the XVI Century, in the matter of Eucharistic cult, they could introduce the vernacular 
(items 11 and 12), communion under two species for the simple faithful (item 14), new texts of the Mass 
and prayers (items 15), formulations adapted to modem theological language (item 15), etc. 

Since it is not our purpose to analyze the Prologue exhaustively here, we shall make about these 
final paragraphs only some observations which make clear how they reproduce grave deviations which 
already existed in the Institutio. 

6. “The Eucharistic Sacrifice Is above All an Action of Christ” 

The dominant note in these final paragraphs is the preoccupation in showing that, since the 
danger of confusion between the hierarchical priesthood and that of the faithful no longer existed, it was 
possible to permit a greater participation of the people in the liturgical ceremonies. 

To justify such a way of proceeding, the Prologue affirms that the Council of Trent, 

“having in mind the circumstances of the epoch, judged it to be its obligation to inculcate once again the 
traditional doctrine of the Church, according to which the Eucharistic Sacrifice is above all an action of 
Christ Himself, in such a manner that its peculiar efficacy is not affected by the manner in which the 
faithful participate in it” (1). 

Now, such a formulation of the relations between the priesthood of Our Lord and that of the 
faithful, is incomplete and dangerous. In this delicate matter, the question does not consist only, nor 
above all, in knowing whether the sacrifice is in some manner affected by the participation of the 
faithful. But it consists above all in knowing if when they participate the faithful are concelebrating the 
Mass with the priest, that is, if they also are like the priest, official representatives of Our Lord FOR the 
carrying out of the liturgical functions. 

It is in this aspect of the question, that the modifications introduced, into the Institutio, in 1970, 
lamentably fail once more. 

In the context of the paragraph which we are now analyzing, the word “imprimis” (above all, 
principally, in the first place) declares that in its 

(1) Item 11 of the Prologue: 

“Ad talem quidem postulationem, Concilium, rationem ducens adiunctorum ilia aetate obtinentium, sui officii esse 
arbitrabatur doctrinam Ecclesiae tralaticiam denuo inculcare, secundum quam Sacrificium eucharisticum imprimis 
Christi ipsius est actio, cuius proinde efficacitas propria eo modo nun afficitur, quo fideles eiusdem fiunt 


essential element , the sacrifice is the action of Christ , but does not exclude explicitly, that it be also the 
action of the faithful . And within the perspective of the whole Prologue, such action of the faithful is 
not excluded, but rather is considered even an element of great importance in the celebration of the Mass 

(1). Now, the sacrificial immolation in its proper sense is exclusively an action of Our Lord, represented 
by the celebrant, who participates as an instrument; but is not, in any way , an action of the faithful. 
They can and they must unite themselves to it in spirit, offering the Victim; but in no way do they 
realize the sacrificial action properly so called (2). 

The text under analysis, in addition to not being clear in this respect, leaves the way open once 
more for an erroneous concept of the priesthood of the faithful. This being the case, the reasons alleged 
immediately afterwards to justify the fact that the new Ordo, contrary to that of Saint Pius V, has 
introduced the vernacular, communion under both species for the faithful, etc., lose their value; for such 
practical measures in the context of the New Mass, favour an erroneous and modernistic notion about 
the priesthood of the faithful. 

7. The Language of Modern Theology 

In item 15, the Prologue has the following paragraph: 

“On account of this same evaluation of the new situation of the present-day world (3), it appears that it 
would do no harm to the venerable treasury of texts, from the ancient tradition, if some sentences were 
modified, in such a way that the verbal expression be better harmonized with the language of modem 
theology, and truly indicated the present-day conditions of discipline in the Church. For this reason 
some phrases referring to the evaluation and the use of terrestial goods, were modified, as well as certain 
phrases which emphasized a particular form of external penance, proper to other epochs of the Church”. 

This passage is symptomatic. The “language of modem theology” is no longer that of Patristic 
theology, nor is it that of Scholastic theology, nor that of Trent... Will the “evaluation” or the “use” of 
“terrestrial goods” have to be expressed in another manner for semantic and grammatical reasons, or 
because the new prayers mark an “opening” for the desacralization of Catholic life? In abolishing “a 
particular form of external penance, proper to other epochs of the Church”, will they not be preparing 
the way for an anthropocentric religion, without crosses and of a Protestant flavour? 

Furthermore, these norms of a linguistic nature adopted by 

(1) Items 4 and 5 of the Prologue, which we commented upon on pp. 65-67. 

(2) See D. Antonio de Castro Mayer , “Carta Pastoral sobre o Santo Sacrificio da Missa”, in Catolicismo, n. 227 , 
November 1969. 

(3) “Ob eandem porro aestimationem novi status mundi, qui nunc est (...)”. - The French National Centre of the 
Pastoral Liturgy gives the following translation to this phrase, conceived in the style of the so-called “prophetic 
groups”: “De meme, parce qu’on prenait conscience de la situation nouvelle du monde contemporian (...)” (in La 
Documentation Catholique , June 21 , 1970, p. 568). 


the Prologue of the Institutio try to explain and justify the profoundly desacralizing orientation which in 
general presided over the translations of the new Ordo to the living languages of the West (1). 

8. The Revision of the Institutio 

Presenting the alterations introduced in 1970 in the Institutio , the magazine Notitiae (2) writes: 

“Once the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani was published (...), there were raised up in respect to it 
various criticisms both rubrical as well as doctrinal. Some points were not presented entirely clearly, 
above all on account of the difficulty of having before one’s eyes all the material, which was expounded 
in various places. Certain censures, however, were made, on the basis of a preconception which opposes 
any type of novelty, and therefore it did not seem necessary to consider them, since they lack any 
foundation. Indeed, the Institutio had been submitted to the examination of the Fathers of the 
“Consilium” and the experts, both before and after its publication, and there was not found any reason to 
alter the disposition of the material, nor was there discovered any doctrinal error. It is a pastoral and 
rubrical document which orders the celebration of the Mass according to the doctrine of the II Vatican 
Council, the Encyclical of Paul VI “Mysterium Fidei” (...), and the Instruction “Eucharisticum 
Mysterium” (...). 

However, in order to avoid difficulties of any type, and to make more clear certain expressions, it was 
resolved that, on occasion of the publication of the typical edition of the new Roman Missal, the text of 
the Institutio would be here or there completed or rewritten (see the “Declaration of S. Congr. for Divine 
Worship, November 18, 1969; Notitiae , 5, 1969, pp. 417-418). However, nothing entirely new was 
done: thus the enumeration of the Institutio continued as in the first writing. 

The amendments are really few and at times slight, or only stylistic” (3). 

If we wished to examine these lines thoroughly, we would have numerous and important 
observations to make. We would demonstrate how the allegation that important criticisms to the 
Institutio have originated in the simple “difficulty of having before one’s eyes all the material” is 
unfounded. We would prove that, in the real order, the so-called “preconception which opposes any 
type of novelty” is nothing more than the love of Catholic doctrine. We would observe that the fact that 
the Fathers of the 

(1) We refer to translations which have been approved by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. 

Number 54, of May 1970, of the magazine Notitiae, which gives information about the modifications then 
introduced into the New Mass, contains a long study of the translations of the Roman Missal (pp. 194-213). The 
article is written by Dorn Antoine Dumas, O.S.B., a member both of the commission in charge of reviewing the 
Latin text of the new Roman Missal, as well as of that which prepares French translations ( Notitiae , p. 197). After 
saying that those who revised the original Latin sought “a fundamental adaptation of the texts to the contemporary 
mentality” (p. 196) and after eulogizing the liturgical language of the Protestants (p. 197), Dorn Antoine presents 
principles and examples which very clearly demonstrate the desacralizing orientation which is being followed in 
these matters by the respective commissions of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. We indicate here 
some characteristic cases” hostia never has the sense of “victim” (p. 198); forma and substantia must not be 
translated in manner to “overcharge the prayers, with irrelevant philosophical technicalities” (p. 206); quaesumus 
must never be interpreted as having a sense of supplication (p. 209); continentia, moderatio, temperari, castigatio, 
ieiunium, “are to be translated by expression which are quite general and adapted to the contemporary mentality” 
(pp. 208-209). 

It would be very difficult to conceive a better manner to realize the modernist ideal of adapting the Church to 
the mentality of the world. The faithful had this same temptation at the time of Saint Paul: “Do not conform 
yourselves to this world” (Rom. 12. 2); “Guard the deposit of the faith, avoiding the novelties of profane voices” (I 
Tim. 6, 20); “There will be a time in which men will not accept sound doctrine, but will seek masters who speak to 
them according to their desires, with sounds that please their ears; and they will depart from the truth, turning to 
fables” (II Tim. 4, 3-4). 

(2) The article entitled “Variationes in Institutionem Generalem Missalis Romani inductae”- Notitiae, n. 54, May, 
1970, pp. 177-190. 

(3) Notitiae, n. 54, p. 177. 


Consilium and the experts have not found doctrinal errors in the document testifies heavily against them. 
We would emphasize how it is inconceivable that one still insist on the merely “pastoral and rubrical” 
character of the Institutio, when it is patent that it also contains numerous passages of an incontestably 
doctrinal nature (1). And we would make even more amendments to the text. 

Since, however, our objective is only to show that the Institutio continues to disagree in 
important points, with Catholic doctrine in spite of the modifications “at times slight” which it has 
undergone, we shall consider more attentively only one aspect of the item translated above: the 
preoccupation of its authors in sustaining that the amendments were not intended to correct errors or 
make up deficiencies of a doctrinal nature, but only to make more clear that which was already 
contained in the document. 

If this is so, one can fear, even before the analysis of the before mentioned amendments that they 
have been sometimes incomplete and sometimes contradictory, in such a way that they have not reached 
the point of exempting the Institutio overall, from the suspicion, that hangs over it. Already a priori one 
may fear that the revision of the document has represented a mere tactical withdrawal, which in the 
concrete order creates certain difficulties for those who are pointing out the errors of the Institutio , but in 
reality consolidates those same errors, reaffirming many of them at times clearly and at times in a 
disguised and subtle language. 

Let us, then, go on the analysis of the amendments introduced in 1970 in the Institutio Generalis 
Missalis Romani. 

9. Number 7 of the Institutio 

The so much attacked number 7 of the Institutio (2) now has the following text: 

“In the Mass or Supper of the Lord, the People of God is united under the presidency of 
the priest, who acts in the place of Christ ( personam Christi gerente), to celebrate the memorial 
of the Lord or the Eucharistic Sacrifice. For that reason, for that local reunion of the Holy 
Church, the promise of Christ holds in an eminent way: “Where two or three are gathered 
together in my name, I am there, in the midst of them” (Mat. 18, 20). Indeed, in the celebration 
of the Mass, in which the sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated, Christ is really present in the very 
assembly, which is met in his name, in the person of the minister, in his words, and moreover 
substantially and permanently under the eucharistic species” (3). 

In this new text, number 7 is still susceptible to corrections almost as serious as before. 

(1) See the observations which we make in this respect on p. 10. 

(2) On the primitive composition of this paragraph, and on the corrections which it needed, see the observations 
which we make on pp. 9-10. 

(3) “In Missa seu Cena dominica populus Dei in unum convocatur, sacerdote praeside personamque Christi 
gerente, ad memoriale Domini seu sacrificium eucharisticum celebrandum. Quare de huiusmodi sanctae 
Ecclesiae coadunatione locali eminenter valet promissio Christi” “Ubi sunt duo vel tres congregati in nomine meo, 
ibi sum in medio eorum” (mt. 18, 20). In Missae enim celebratione, in qua sacrificium Crucis perpetuatur, Christus 
realiter praesens adest in ipso coetu in suo nomine congregato, in persona ministri, in verbo suo, et quidem 
substantialiter et continenter sub speciebus eucharisticis”. 


In fact, even though the appearance of one definition of the Mass has been withdrawn and while it is 
said at times that the priest takes the place of Christ, a reference to sacrifice (eucharistic, but not called 
proprietary) was added, and it is affirmed that Our Lord is substantially and permanently present under 
the Eucharistic species, there are still ambiguities and deviations that are not small. 

The most grave of the errors consists in affirming that it is the people who celebrate the memorial of the 
Lord or Eucharistic sacrifice. (1) One notes, in fact, that the agent of celebrandum is not the sacerdos or 
Christus, but rather the populous Dei. After all that has already been said about the graveness of this 
conception (2), we judge it superfluous to detain ourselves longer on this point. It suffices to observe 
here that we are looking at a notion that turns each person into a new redactor of the Institutio (3). This 
alone suffices to show how far the document is from Church teaching. (4) 

Even in the new translation of number 7, one observes there is still the strange imprecision about the 
different ways of the “presence” of Our Lord in the Mass. It states, it is true, that His presence in the 
Eucharistic species is “substantial and permanent.” The expression is absolutely exact. But the word 
“ enim ” (indeed) establishes an unclear and very dangerous link between this substantial presence and the 
principle enunciated below: “Where two are three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of 
them.” What relation is there between these two “presences”? Does the “communitarian” character of 
the “assembly gathered together in the name of Christ” contribute in some way to make Him present 
under the eucharistic species? Or does it make this second presence realized in a fuller way? Or, at least, 
does the “people of god” gathered together play some active role in making the substantial presence of 
Our Lord in the Eucharist effective? The text allows dangerous ambiguities to hover over this point, 
especially in view of the fact of what has already been affirmed above that the “people of God” celebrate 
the sacrifice. 

Also not established are the necessary distinctions between the different ways of the non-substantial 
presence of Christ: in the gathered assembly, in the person of the minister and in the word of Scripture. 
The fact that the assembly is named before the minister is expressive and could indicate that the 
presence of Our Lord in the people is, if not superior to, at least more fundamental for the Eucharistic 
celebration than the presence in the person of the minister. Further, as already observed (5), the simple 
use of the expression “ personam Christi gerens ” is not sufficient in the context of the Institutio to 
eliminate the ambiguities that the document creates on this matter. 

So strange is the tone of this number 7, even in its new translation, that yet other remediations would be 
necessary: In the Mass, Our Lord becomes present under the Eucharistic species, but one cannot say, 
that in the Mass He is substantially and permanently present under the species; the clause “ sacerdote 
praeside personamque Christi ge rente” seems to subordinate or postpone the representation of Christ to 
the presidency of the 

(1) See what we said in this respect in note 1 on p. 67. 

(2) See pp. 15-21. 

(3) The same deviation, indeed, was already pointed out by us, above, on pp. 65-68, 70 and 72-73; and we shall 
refer to it again, especially on pp. 214-215. 

(4) We call to mind here, that we do not present those observations in a spirit of contestation or revolt against the 
powers and the authority which the Hierarchy has, according to the laws and doctrine of the Church. What we 
desire is to verify in what measure these laws and this doctrine, in their most pure and authentic expressions 
oblige us to accept or to reject the New Mass. 

(5) See pp. 16 ff. 


assembly, while in reality the reverse is what takes place; in the context, the fact that the expression 
“ real presence” is not reserved for the presence which results from the transubstantiation, tends to 
weaken the faith in the “real presence” by antonomasia and to introduce into Catholic circles a 
terminology agreeable to certain Protestants; nor is it said how the sacrifice of the Cross is perpetuated 
in the Mass, for the classic term “is renewed” is not even employed, etc. 

The commentary in the magazine Notitiae in reference to number 7 in its new text, only 
contributes to aggravate in the ambiguities of the text. Here is one example of this: 

“The structure of the eucharistic celebration is drawn from the communal Mass, or the Mass with the 
people, in which THE “ACTION OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH” takes place IN FULL 
MEASURE, that is, the action of the people of God hierarchically organized” (...), although ONE 
without the people (...)” (1). 

It is not easy to comprehend why “one should recognize the entire efficacy and dignity” of the 
private Mass, when in it the “action of Christ and the Church” does not take place “in full measure”. - 
Either this phrase has no meaning, or it insinuates that in the “communal” Mass, the faithful present 
really concelebrate with the priest, the “action of Christ and the Church” attaining thus its “full 

10. The Other Numbers which Have Been Modified 

The beginning of number 48 has now the following text: 

“In the Last Supper Christ instituted the sacrifice and Paschal banquet, by which the Sacrifice of 
the Cross becomes continuously present in the Church when (111)” (2). 

As one sees, the expression “memorial of his death and resurrection” has been replaced by 
“sacrifice and Paschal banquet”, still having a reference to the sacrifice of the Cross. However the 
ambiguity in relation to the term “presence” which we pointed out, remained (3). And, on the other 
hand, unfortunately, it is not said that the sacrifice is propitiatory: this precision only appears in number 
2 of the Prologue. This being the case, the modification introduced in the number 48 did not go far 
enough to change substantially the evaluation which is to be made about the Institutio. 

* * * 

(1) Notitiae, n. 54, p. 178. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) The 1 969 text of this number of the Institutio is to be found on page 7. 

(3) See pp. 6 ff. 


Number 55d came to have the following formulation (1): 

“Narrative of the Institution and Consecration: by the words and actions of Christ IS REALIZED THE 
OFFERED his Body and Blood under the species of bread and wine, and gave to eat and drink TO THE 
APOSTLES, and He left to these latter the command to perpetuate the same mystery”. 

The amendments introduced in this paragraph, constitute without doubt an important correction 
in the Institutio. It was inadmissible, that in this central passage of the document, the title used only the 
words “narrative of the Institutio ”, and did not even speak of sacrifice. It was also to be hoped for that 
the insinuation that, in the Last Supper, Christ only gave his Body and Blood to the Apostles, without 
offering them for all men would be eliminated. The ambiguity about the notion of “presence” 

The insistence on the fact that the Mass is a memorial of the Death and the Resurrection of Our 
Lord was also suppressed. As we have already observed (2), that insistence was in such a form as to 
favour an erroneous concept about the Sacred Eucharist. Without doubt the Resurrection has a special 
relation with the Mass, for it is considered by the theologians as a manifestation of the acceptation of the 
sacrifice of Calvary by God the Father. But the excessive insistence on the fact that the Eucharist also 
recalls the Resurrection contributes to dissimulate the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the Mass. 

In spite of these modifications, the text of number 55d ought to be more complete. Granted the 
importance of this passage it should contain a reference to the sacrifice of the Cross, to the propitiatory 
character of the Mass, etc. 

At any rate, however, here also the amendments made were by no means sufficient to make the 
Institutio acceptable in its ensemble, all the more so because as we shall say further on (3), numerous 
passages in which the document insinuates the same errors now expurgated from the number 55d, were 
not corrected. 

* * 

In number 60, where it read: “The priest celebrant also presides over the assembly which is met, 
acting in the place of Christ (. . .)”, it reads now: 

assembly which is united (...)” (4). 

(1) The capitals emphasize that which was modified or added. We indicate the former text on p. 78. 

(2) See pp. 23-24. 

(3) See pp. 214-215. 

(4) The capitals are ours. 


This correction introduces undoubtedly the notion of the instrumental priesthood of the priest. 
But its favourable effect did not go so far as to undo what is censurable in the various passages whereby, 
as we have already shown, the Institutio affirms explicitly that the people also celebrate. 

In the same number 60 there was also made another amendment: where it is said that the priest 
“participates with his brothers in the bread of the eternal life” it says now that he “GIVES to his brothers 
the bread of eternal life, IN WHICH HE PARTICIPATES with them” (1). 

As one sees, the new text alludes to the priestly function of the priest, but it does not, in any way, 
undo the ambiguities pointed out before (2). 

* * * 

Lesser modifications, which do not require commentaries, were made in divers other parts. 

In the final paragraph of number 59, where it read: “If however the Bishop does not celebrate 
the Eucharist, but delegates someone else to do it (...)”, it says: “If the Bishop however does not 
celebrate the Eucharist, but ENTRUSTS someone else to do it (...)” (3). 

In number 56 it is said now that only the “faithful who are properly disposed” can communicate, 
for the former formulation left the way open for the interpretation of a Protestant nature, according to 
which all the faithful must always communicate. 

In number 56a there was introduced a modification, probably to eliminate the dangerous 
ambiguity of the original text, according to which the Body of Christ appeared to be entirely identified 
with the “Daily bread” which we ask for in the “Our Father”. 

In numbers 80c and 1 17 was reintroduced the use of the paten for the communion of the faithful. 

Number 109 was modified to admit the optional use of the bells for the Consecration. 

Number 125, in its new text, made the kiss of the altar at the end of the Mass optional in certain 
circumstances. This is one more desacralizing measure. In the same way, number 141, 152, and 208 
were altered. 

Number 276 makes it clear that outside the Mass the faithful ought to, not only pray before the 
Blessed Sacrament but also adore it. 

Number 283 has now a new clause in which it says that the large “Eucharistic Bread” which can 
be broken into parts should however “be made according to the traditional form” of the host. One does 
not see what is the meaning of this modification, all the more so since the commentary of Notitiae 
admits that such hosts may be, in their “size, thickness and 

(1) The capitals are ours. 

(2) See especially pp. 66 ff. and 76 ff. - the custom, every day more generalized, of laymen and even women (at 
times during the very celebration of the Mass), distributing Holy Communion, shows very well how these simple 
amendments of number 60 are insufficient to undo all in the structure of the new Ordo which is opposed to the 
Tradition of the Church. 

(3) Capitals are ours. 


colour” different from the traditional one (1). Anyway, the introduction of the clause indicated lets one 
perceive that the authors of the New Mass sensed how far they had departed from the traditional Ordo. 

* * * 

Various numbers introduced modifications of a merely disciplinary, rubrical, stylistic or 
typographical order: 30; 32; 76; 95; 99; 120; 121; 143; 153, item 1; 157; 158; 158a; 158c; 158d; 234a; 
235; 242; item 4; 242, item 7; 242, item 8b; 242 item 14, 290; 299; 300; 308a; 308b; 315; 316; 319; 
322e; 329a; 330; 332; 333; 334; 336; 337. 

These modifications are of no or only very reduced doctrinal importance. We only mention a 
certain amplification of the cases in which the communion of the faithful under two species and 
concelebration are permitted. 

11. Modifications in the Fixed Parts of the Mass 

Also in the Ordo properly so called, that is, in the fixed parts of the Mass, there were introduced 
divers changes. 

Many new prefaces were added, which caused a considerable increase of volume and required a 
modification of importance in the enumeration of the paragraphs. 

It was also determined that on purifying the sacred vessels, the celebrant must say in a low voice 
the prayer quod ore sumpsimus, which had been formerly eliminated (2). 

We shall not comment on other alterations introduced in the Ordo because they do not affect the 
criticisms which we made before of the text of 1969. Here are some examples of these alterations: 
before the Gospel the word: “Reading of the Holy Gospel according to N.” are said; it became 
permissible in any Mass to sing the parts of the Eucharistic Prayer which can be sung in the 
concelebrated Masses; the Communicantes and the Hanc Igitur of Easter must be prayed until the II 
Sunday after Easter and not only until Saturday “in albis”; it is prescribed that the priest pronounce the 
Pax Domini always facing the people. 

12. Conclusion 

In conclusion: the texts of the New Mass of 1970 as those of 1969, can not in conscience be 

As we have already said (3), we shall leave for the end of this study (4), a more detailed critique 
or evaluation of the conclusions to be drawn from the considerations which we are making. 

(1) Notitiae, n. 54, pp. 185-186. 

(2) See in this respect, that which we write on pp. 39 and 58. 

(3) Onp. 63. 

(4) See pp. 214 ft. 



The New Ordinary of the Mass and the Protestant Supper 

Various theologians have called the attention of the Catholic public to the Protestant, especially 
Lutheran, inspiration of the new Ordo Missae. The study of the matter makes it clear that they are not 
mistaken. And that is what we would like to show in the pages which follow, basing ourselves on 
documents concerning the Reform and its liturgical innovations, written by both Catholics and 

As the analysis of these documents will show, unhappily that which the Lutheran Supper and the 
New Mass have in common are not merely some superficial features. It is not a question of a mere 
apparent or casual resemblance. Rather it is verified that the analogy existing between the two is rooted 
in the very suppositions of one as well as the other. 

A. A Slow and Cautious Reform 

In the Dictionnaire de Theologie Cadiolique, article “Luther”, J. Paquier describes in the 
following terms the new cult introduced by Luther: 

“Logically, the new religion should perhaps have only one cult: the interior cult of faith. To 
excite this interior cult, it would be possible to add a sacrament: “the Word” (1). But the Catholic past 
of Luther and his good sense prevented him from drawing the logical consequences of his ideas (2). The 
new worship will be a reduction in and a transformation of the Catholic worship, a prudent and timid 
reduction and transformation which conserved much of the past” (3). 

See, then, how it would be unsufficient to allege, in defense of the new Ordo , that it conserves 
much of the traditional Missal. 

“The centre of Catholic worship - continues J. Paquier - is Jesus Christ. The great prayer of the Church, 
the most important act of her worship, is the Mass, at the same time a 

(1) We already pointed out, on pp. 21 ff., the singular importance which the Institute attributes to the “Liturgy of 
the Word”. 

(2) Observe that it is peculiar to the heretics to go little by little, only revealing their real designs when the 
resistance of the faithful is overcome. This point will be expounded in greater detail further on, above all on pp. 

(3) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, cols. 1304-1305. 


sacrifice and the realization of a sacrament. As sacrifice, it is above all a homage of man to God. As a 
realization of a sacrament it is above all a font of sanctification for men. This sacrament is the 
“sacrament” of the Eucharist, or simply the “Sacrament”, as they said in the time of Luther. 

Of this doctrine Luther always preserved the belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ in the 
Eucharist. It was that which distinguished him clearly from Zwingli (1), from Bucer, from Calvin, in a 
word from those who, perhaps with a certain irony, were called “sacramentarians” (2). 

Note then, therefore, how right was Pius VI (3), on condemning the Synod of Pistoia for not 
speaking of “transubstantiation”, while admitting the “real presence”. One more time the gravity of the 
omission in which the 1969 text of the Institutio fell on indicating the manner by which Jesus Christ is in 
the Eucharist, by employing only the word “presence” - and not even speaking of “real presence” - 
becomes clear here (4). 

J. Paquier continues: “But, evidently, he submitted this dogma to profound modifications. In the first 
place, that sacrament as the others, did not produce grace; it only excited in us the confidence that our 
sins were pardoned (5). On the other hand, after the consecration the bread and wine remained together 
with the body and blood of Christ: there was no change of substance, nor transubstantiation, but rather 
an “impantio” (“inbreadification”) (6). In other words, both as man and as God, Jesus was present 
everywhere; what difficulty would there be therefore in admitting his presence in the Eucharist (7)? 
Besides that, when is Jesus Christ present in the bread and wine? In general, Luther tells us that He is 
present only in the moment of the consecration and communion. But on this point, as on others, his 
contradictions are abundant (8); one will comprehend easily then, that, after his death this belief in the 
real presence was endangered among his followers. 

Finally, and above all, Luther rose up against the idea of sacrifice (9). The idea of the Mass put him in a 
true fury. It was the Mass and the Papacy (10) which received the most injuries from him” (11). 

Immediately after, the article in the “Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique” describes the violent 
attacks of Luther against the receiving of offerings for Masses. This, according to him, had as an effect, 
the maintenance of innumerable priests in idleness and promoted the abuse of foundations. For this 
reason, he said that the Mass was a work of the devil (12), and “the greatest and the most horrible of the 
papal abominations, the tail of the dragon of the Apocalypse” (13). As J. Paquier 

(1) On the Liturgical reform of Zwingli, see pp. 87-88. 

(2) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, col. 1305. 

(3) See pp. 8-9. 

(4) See pp. 6 ff. 

(5) The new Mass, weakening the sacrificial and propitiatory character of the Eucharist cult, establishes one 
more point of contact with the Lutheran supper. 

(6) Therefore, the affirmation of the presence of the “Body of Christ” in the Eucharist is also insufficient to 
distinguish Catholics from Protestants. The use of the term “transubstantiation” is indispensable (see the 
observations which we make in respect to this on pp. 6 ff.). 

(7) As one sees, Luther, on his part, took advantage of the inherent ambiguities of the concept of “presence”. On 
the manner with which the Institutio makes use of this concept, see pp. 6 ff. 

(8) In their turn, contradictions are abundant in progressive writings (see pp. 35 ff.). 

(9) The new Ordo weakens the notion that the Mass constitutes a sacrifice (see pp. 1 0 ff.). 

(10) Also in our days the traditional notion of the Mass and the papal primacy are perhaps the points of Catholic 
doctrine which are most attacked by the neomodernists. 

(1 1 ) J. Paquier , article “Luther” in the “Diet. De Theol. Cath.”, cols. 1304-1305. 

(12) Weimar , t. VIII, p. 499, 13 (1521). 

(13) Weimar , t. L, p. 200, 8; p. 204, 15 (1537). 


well observes, the abuse of Mass offerings was nothing more than a “circumstantial reason” for the 
attacks of Luther against the Mass (1), for in reality the logic of his doctrine would lead to the total 
abolition of the Mass. 

This is what J. Paquier explains more circumstantially in the following: 

AGAINST the Mass, however, Luther had an argument infinitely more important: the Mass was 
opposed to his conception of religion. In ancient times, the center of religion was God. More than 
anything else the cult was therefore a homage offered to God; in this homage, the sacrifice was the act 
“par excellence”. For Luther, the center of religion was not God but man; the end of religion is the 
enlightening of man and even more his consolation. Since this is so, for what does an immolation 
offered to God to recognize his sovereign dominion over his creature serve? (2) Undoubtedly, Luther 
still admitted the sacrifice of the cross; but he reached the point of making this sacrifice an ancient stage 
of religion, and putting it in opposition to our religious life of today. On the one hand, in the ancient 
stage were Christ and his merits; on the other hand, in the present would be ourselves, who would have 
nothing more to merit, but would have only to attract over ourselves the merits of Jesus Christ, through 
our confidence in Him (Weimar, t. VIII, p. 442, 28 ff. - 1521); etc.” (3). 

* * * 

It could be asked here if one notes among the indoctrinators of progressivism any tendency to 
lead the faithful away from frequent communion or to diminish devotion to the Holy Mass. 

At first sight, this question would seem to merit a negative answer, since they, every minute, 
proclaim themselves ardent paladins of the liturgy in general, and of the eucharistic liturgy in particular. 
Frequently they extoll the excellences of the Mass to such a point, that they would seem to outdo the 
traditional Catholics very much. 

However, we can not forget that when one extolls something in terms which are not entirely in 
accordance with sound doctrine, in general he ends by denigrating, and at times even by denying that 
same thing which in the beginning he praised so much. That is what History teaches. Rationalism led to 
the suicide of the reason itself; the false eucharistic fervour of the Jansenists ended by separating souls 
from the Blessed Sacrament; Liberalism led to totalitarianism; the terrestrial paradise promised by the 
Communists shows itself to be more and more a terrestrial hell, whence whole populations want to flee. 

(1) Col. 1305. 

(2) For that reason, Luther desired the abolition of the Offertory (see pp. 96 ff.). In the new Ordo, the Offertory 
practically disappeared (see pp. 39 ff.). 

(3) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, cols. 1305-1306. The notion that we have nothing to merit is not without affinity to 
the slight emphasis given by the new Ordo to the propitiatory character of the Mass. 


Will the same rule hold for the unwholesome liturgical movement which was already denounced 
by Pius XII? 

Unhappily, there are reasons to fear that such is the case. We shall point out some of them: 

1) The commentary of the B.A.C., to which we have already referred, says that the priest must 
never celebrate a private Mass now called a “Mass without the people” - on account of mere personal 
devotion (1). 

2) Explaining the paragraph of the Institutio which declares that the Mass has a “communal” 
character, the commentators of the B.A.C. write: 

“In our pastoral care we ought to draw all the consequences of these words of the Institutio. For 
example: not multiplying Masses when there is no true common necessity, especially during the days of 
the week. For this reason, would one not judge that on such days any one of the faithful will be well 
attended with one Mass in the morning and another in the evening, in the hours which are most 
convenient for the majority? And, in this case, if there are more priest than the number of Masses, why 
should they not concelebrate, in this fashion grouping the people together as much as possible?” (2). 

And why not multiply the Masses - we ask - since Catholic doctrine permits and even counsels 
that very thing, in order to facilitate to the maximum the assistance of the faithful? All the more so since 
the true “common” character of the Mass does not cease to exist in a private celebration (3). 

3) On the other hand, the notion that communion outside of the Mass does not harmonize with 
the recent liturgical reforms is being spread more and more among priests and faithful. 

* * * 

The exposition of J. Paquier continues: 

“The Mass now is not a sacrifice. Futher is going to, for this reason, eliminate all that which calls to 
mind this character (4). Other reasons will contribute to the modifications which he is going to 
introduce. Futher and Melanchthon were professors; teaching is going to replace the sacrifice, the chair 
is going to replace the altar. The professor does not like pompous apparatus; the new cult will be simple 
(5). All Christians are priests; therefore, all communicate under the two species (6). In the Eucharist 
Jesus Christ 

(1) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 214, commentary on number 209 of the Institutio. 

(2) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 91 , commentary on number 14 of the Institutio. 

(3) See: Council of Trent , Denz.-Sch. 1747; Lercher , Instit, Theol. Dogm., t. IV-2-1-, p.276, note 14. 

(4) On the tendency of the new Ordo to put the sacrificial character of the Mass in the shadow, see pp. 1 0 ff. 

(5) Emphasizing the weaknesses of professors, which would have give rise to certain errors of Luther and 
Melanchthon, J. Paquier seems not to note that egalitarianism, and therefore pride and sensuality, are at the 
heart of the state of soul, which gave rise to Protestantism. On the central role of egalitarian metaphysics in the 
explosion of the Protestant Revolution see Plinio Correa de Oliveira , Revolucao e Contra-Revolucao, pp. 30-33. 

(6) It is then not without profound uneasiness that antiprogressive Catholics have been noting the amplification, 
in the Catholic liturgy, of the cases in which communion under two species is authorized. 


is not constantly present, but He is present only in the moment of the function and of the Supper. 
Therefore, outside of the hours of the services one should not go to church to pray (1). And crowning all 
the rest, the vernacular - used formerly in the primitive Church - will be introduced in the cult and will 
take the place of Latin, the official language of the Church of the West. In this way Luther approached 
the people and interested them in the cause of the Reform (2). Finally, the sermon will be in the most 
important place; in the second place, the prayer; and only in the third place, confession and the supper 

However, the changes will be made timidly. And that is what a certain good sense of Luther and the 
falsity of his attitudes require. It is necessary to tranquilize the people, or according to his expression, 
“to temporize with the conscience of the weak” (Weimar, t. XII, p. 48, 20 - 1523). In the churches, 
people will encounter more of “Mass”, derived from the idol “Maozim”, described by Daniel 
“(Tischreden”, t. IV, n. 5037 - 1540), that horrid name will be conserved. Thus long years after they 
have become Lutherans, there will be Christian communities ignorant of their own separation from 
Rome and the Catholic Church” (4). 

The success of the temporizing measures adopted by Luther, in circles which would have reacted 
energetically, if they had from the beginning seen where they were being led, is shocking. 

This lesson of History creates for many souls in our days, the grave obligation of alerting their 
brothers in the faith against the process which involves us. 

For, as one sees, profound and very grave reforms can develop “timidly” and very gradually. It 
is then with apprehension that one wonders to what point the liturgy can evolve starting from the 
Institutio and the new Ordo. All the more so, when such evolution will be multiform and ipso facto, 
very great, in consequence of the faculties conceded to the Bishops and to the Episcopal Conferences, to 
introduce in their territories, with the authorization of the Holy See, innovations not provided for in the 
liturgical books. To this should be added the now very ample attributes which the same Episcopal 
Conferences enjoy in concrete applications of the norms of the Institutio (5). 

One can fear that in the exercise of such faculties, conditioned by the peculiarities of each region 
and moves by the internal logic of things, the process of modernization of the liturgy 

(1 ) About the tendency of the heterodox liturgical movement, to condemn all private piety, Pius XII wrote: 

“In treating of genuine and sincere piety, we affirm that between the Sacred Liturgy and the other acts of religion - granted that 
they be rightly ordered and have in view a good end - there can be no contradiction; there are even certain exercises of piety 
which the Church recommends very much to the clergy and to the religious. 

We wish that the Christian people do not abandon these exercises either (...). 

Do not cease then, Venerable Brethren, in your pastoral care to recommend and to foment these exercises of piety (...). 
Above all do not permit - as some would wish that, either deceived by an apparent renovation of the liturgy, or speaking lightly 
of an exclusive efficacy and dignity of the liturgical rites - that the churches be closed during the hours which are not destined 
for liturgical functions, as already takes place in some regions; that the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the pious 
salutations to the tabernacle be neglected; that the cult of the Virgin Mother of God, be neglected, so that in a short time it 
become weakened and tepid, above all among the youth; for devotion to Mary, as the Saints affirm, is a sign of predestination. 
These tendencies are poisoned fruits, highly noxious to Christian piety, sprung from degenerated branches of a good tree; it is 
necessary therefore, to cut them off, so that the vital sap of the tree may nourish only fruits which are good and desirable” 
(Encyclical “Mediator Dei”, A. A. S. 1947, pp. 583-585). 

See also the allocution of Pius XII , of 22 September 1956, to the participants in the International Congress of the Pastoral 
Liturgy, which met in Assisi - A. A. S. 1956, p. 714. 

2) Here also it does not appear to us that J. Paquier has seen the true importance of a point of the Protestant Reform. 

Would Luther have introduced the vernacular in the Liturgy to please the people? Or above all to eliminate the sacral 
character of worship, to confuse the celebrant with the people-priest, and to destroy a venerable tradition of the Church, etc.? 

3) Another affinity. The new Ordo gave more emphasis to the “Liturgy of the Word”, and to the homily, at the same 
time as it abbreviated the Confiteor and the Canon, and eliminated the absolutions given by the priest to the faithful. 

4) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, col. 1306. 

5) See pp. 1 05 ff . 


will be retarded in such a way as to assure it of a singular efficacy in moving toward radicalizations and 
exaggerations of every order. In Holland, for example, the innovations possibly will be numerous and 
extreme, while in Brazil they will develop in a more flexible and gradual manner. In all counties 
eventual resistances will be tranquilized by means of conciliatory measures, at the same time that the 
process will be undoubtedly carried out as fast as possible. 

An eventual resort to such “temporization with the conscience of the weak” would be even more 
dangerous, since many traditionalist Catholics do not appear to have their eyes open to the danger of 
such slow marches of the Revolution (1). 

“It is with these doctrinal and practical preoccupations - continues J. Paquier - that Luther reformed the 
Mass. Toward the end of 1523 he writes, still in Latin, his “brief Exposition of the Mass and 
Communion”; and in the beginning of 1526, in German, “The German Mass and the Ordinary of the 
Service of God” (...). 

The first mass in German was celebrated in Wittenberg, October 29, 1525 (2). In contemporary 
Lutheranism this mass is conserved integrally” (3). 

As one sees, the Lutheran revolutionary process stopped in a certain sense, and thus it became 
impossible to make it reach the ultimate consequences of the ideas of Luther. Without doubt, other sects 
and other schools will later assume the responsibility of carrying on the march of the Revolution (4). 
But it is important that we emphasize here the stagnation which detained Lutheranism in mid-journey. It 
was provoked above all by reactions of a certain traditionalist origin which rose up in Lutheran circles, 
especially as a result of the energetic and salutary measure adopted by the Council of Trent. 

We are here before one more lesson of History, which shows us not only how great are the 
possibilities of success of vigorous and uncompromising Catholic reactions, but also with what caution 
the pseudo-Reformers must act in order to avoid the stagnation of revolutionary processes which they 

“As a general rule - we read in J. Paquier - the Lutheran mass or supper was only celebrated on 
Sundays. The daily worship is maintained, however, replacing the Mass by a reading from the Bible 
followed by a sermon, prayers, and singing of psalms. The feasts of the Saints disappeared little by 
little. In any case, for the Virgin and the other saints there should only be an honori- 

(1) See in this respect: Plinio Correa de Oliveira , Revolucao e Contra-Revolucao, pp. 22-23, 24-25, 50. 

(2) Note the extreme slowness of the liturgical reform carried out by Luther. The publication of his 95 theses on 
indulgences dates from 1517, and his condemnation by Leo X, from 1520. However, it was only in 1525 that he 
celebrated his first Mass in German. 

(3) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, col. 1306. 

(4) See Plinio Correa de Oliveira . Revolucao e Contra-Revolucao , pp. 19, 22-23, 24-27. 


fic cult, avoiding taking them as intercessors before God. It was also in this sense that their images 
could be conserved” (1). 

After describing the modifications introduced by Luther into the liturgy of the other sacraments, 
J. Paquier makes an observation which also suggests curious comparisons with contemporary events: 

“Those are the principal features of the nascent Lutheran cult. Many details remained vague, varying 
from year to year, and from city to neighboring city” (2). 

* * * 

Completing this item, we transcribe below a brief exposition, made by the historian Jean Rilliet, 
of the liturgical reform of Zwingli: 

“On Holy Thursday, April 13, 1525, as well as on Good Friday, and the following Easter Sunday, under 
the trembling vaults of the “Grand Muenster”, worship was carried out in an absolutely new way. The 
German language completely expelled Latin from the liturgy. The choirs no longer sang. The voices of 
Zwingli and the two other priests who assisted him were raised only in the entrance to the sanctuary, 
reciting alternately texts taken from the Psalms and the Credo. In certain moments, the multitude which 
crowded the church gave them its support through the responses: “Praised be God”, “Amen”, and they 
still recited with them, kneeling, the Our Father. The Supper replaced the Mass. 

The species of the sacred meal were on an ordinary table. Zwingli officiated facing the assembly instead 
of remaining as in the Roman liturgy, facing the altar. At the appropriate moment the acolytes 
distributed the bread along the pews of the faithful, who with their own hands took a piece and put it 
into their mouths. The chalice, brought in the same way, circulated next, passing from one 
communicant to another. Zwingli ordered that the wine be placed in wooden chalices, to repudiate 
openly all pomp. 

These sensational innovations encountered little opposition. The ease with which the Church abandoned 
the age old tradition was shocking. For many years, the partisans of the old law were allowed to go on 
Sundays to nearby places in which they found the priestly vestments, the incense, the “Kyrie Eleison”, 
the “Gloria”, confession - all of which had disappeared in the sanctua- 

(1) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, in the “Diet, de Theol. Cath.”, col. 1306. 

Note, in this last paragraph, that Luther only permitted that the images be conserved - certainly in order not to 

profound desires of the people. 

The Institutio has one sole paragraph dedicated to the cult of images - it is that of number 278. Observe that 
one does not encounter there one word of stimulation of this cult so praised by the Church, but only a permission, 
and that all involved with the preoccupation to avoid possible dangers of devotion to the images: 

“In the sacred edifices the images of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Saints, according to the 
ancient tradition of the Church, are legitimately proposed for the veneration of the faithful. However, take care, on 
one hand, that the number be not too great, and on the other that their disposition be made in due order, so as 
not to distract the attention of the faithful from the celebration itself (cf. Cone. Vat. II, Const. On the Sacred Liturgy 
S. C., n. 125). Let there not be more than one image, of the one single Saint. In a general way try, in the 
ornamentation and disposition of the Church, to favour the piety of the whole community.” 

Does the phrase “let there not be more than one image of the one single Saint” also apply to Our Lady? Does 
the Institutio include her among the “Saints”, contrary to the custom of the Church? The text is not clear. But the 
commentary of the B.A.C. interprets it in this anti-marian sense: “neither is it convenient to multiply images of the 
Virgin” ( Nuevas Normas ..., p. 257). 

(2) J. Paquier , article “Luther”, in the Diet. De Theol. Cath., col. 1307. 


ries of Zurich. When the relations between the Confederates became tense, a little after the passage of 
Bern into the Reform, in 1528, the tolerance was suppressed” (1). 

B. The Temporizations of Luther 

In the same Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, in the article “Messe”, J. Riviere presents 
some other suggestive data about the liturgical innovations of the first Protestants: 

“Grave dissensions rose up from the beginning among the Reformers, about the meaning and value of 
the Eucharist. But all, both Lutherans as well as Sacramentarians, agreed in denying the Mass the 
sacrificial character which Christianity had always recognized in it (2) (...). 

It was reserved to the German Reform to simultaneously unleash the war against the Catholic Church 
and organize the communities that were conquered for the new Gospel. If the first task authorized the 
most complete doctrinal radicalism, the second demanded certain temporizations with the inherited 
customs. The theoretical and practical position of Lutheran Churches in relation to the Mass was 
affected by this double inspiration (3). 

(...) All of his principles and all of his passions as a reformer united in Luther to make him reject the 
traditional doctrine about the Mass (...) Thus, this point is one of those against which he had to harden 
himself in a special way. The reason for this is that he felt that in this way he did not merely rise up 
against the Catholic stronghold (4). “Having overthrown the Mass” he wrote in his work Against King 
Henry of England - I believe we will have triumphed totally over the Pope” (...). The importance of the 
situation explains easily the violence of the assault” (5). 

A little later, J. Riviera emphasizes that one principle admitted by Luther already before his 
break with the Catholic Church, indicated his future orientation: 

“Luther did not allow the eucharistic communion to be separated from the words of God (6) (...). “Lor 

(1 ) Jean Rilliet , Zwingii, le Troisieme Homme de la Reforme , 1 959 - cited by La Contre-Reforme Catholique au 
XX - Siecle, n 26, November 1969, p. 1. 

(2) Once more one notes the dangers that are involved in any weakening of the sacrificial aspect of the Mass. 

(3) Is it not obvious that the neomodernists find themselves in an analogous situation? How then, judge their 
works only on the basis of that which there is in them of the apparently traditional - as many do putting aside the 
passages which are heterodox? Or - as some would have it - how can one deny the evident sense of their 
heterodox passages on the basis of their orthodox passages? 

(4) Luther had more than enough reasons to think in this way. For, as Pius XII , wrote, “the supreme point and as 
it were the center of the Christian religion is the mystery of the Holy Eucharist” (Encyclical Mediator Dei, A. A. S. 
1947, p.547). 

(5) J. Riviere , article “Messe”, in the Diet, de Theol. Cath., col. 1085. 

The importance of the situation in which we find ourselves today we would say in so many points similar to that of 
the Church, in the first steps of radicalization of Lutheranism explains easily our firmness in the analysis of the 
new Ordinary of the Mass. 

(6) On the exaggerated emphasis on the “Liturgy of the Word” and on the neomodernist tendency to prohibit 
communion outside the Mass, one may see, respectively, pp. 21 ff. and Pius XII , Encyclical Mediator Dei. 


should receive the Sacrament and the Gospel at the same time”. From that he concluded: (...) 
“Therefore it is not licit to celebrate the Mass without the Gospel: a private reading in a private Mass 
and a public “reading in a public Mass”. (...) But this still does not signify that he already raised doubts 
about the reality of the sacrifice of the Mass (1) (...). 

It is not necessary to insist on the fact that Luther at times gives to the Mass the name of 
“sacrifice of praise” (...). For that very true aspect does not prevent that the Mass also be presented 
under other aspects; and the Reformer recognizes, in the same places, that the Mass acts “ex opere 
operato”, although he urges that one add to it the personal sacrifice (2). 

In a sermon in German about the Blessed Sacrament, printed in 1520 (...), Luther still kept 
silence about the question of the sacrificial value of the Mass (3) (...). But he was not going to wait 
long to express his opposition to this article of Catholic faith. 

His conviction was already formed in the celebrated sermon about good works, in 1520 (...), 
where he outlined it in a few words, announcing a greater development for later. This was the object of 
a special sermon “about the New Testament, that is, about the Holy Mass” (4), distributed in the same 
year (...). The author there sustains that to conceive the Mass as a sacrifice is “the worst of abuses” 
(...), that it is only a testament, that is, a favour received from God, and not an offering made to God (5). 
There is only sacrifice in the prayers of thanksgiving which we direct to God in recognition of the 
blessings we receive from Him. Luther was referring to the primitive epoch in which the faithful 
brought to the church gifts “in natura”, which the priest blessed and over which the pronounced a 
eucharistic prayer. He sees a survival of this custom in the rite of the offertory; but, except for this, 
nothing in the Mass indicates that it is a sacrifice” (6). 

In the paragraphs which follow, J. Riviere expounds the theory of Luther, which we have just analyzed 


about the non- sacrificial character of the Mass. Concluding this topic, he writes that, according to him, 

“(...) Christ did not celebrate a ritual act but a reflection; all that was later added to the simplicity of this 
first supper is no more than a ceremonial without value” (8). 

(1) All these steps of the process of the apostasy of Luther appear to us extremely revealing in respect to the 
march, in general slow, and progressive, of the schisms and the heresies. This lesson of History ought to be 
remembered by anyone who would wish to accept the new Ordo on the basis that in it are conserved numerous 
rubrics of the traditional Mass. 

(2) It is not strange therefore that at times, in the very same paragraph, neomodernist documents admit - in frank 
contradiction - true doctrines side by side with heterodox ones. This is the manner of proceeding to which 
Lutheranism, and in principle all heresy, is constrained not only by tactical but also by metaphysical reasons (see 
pp. 25 ff. ). 

(3) In the development of the heresies, silence about a dogma habitually precedes its explicit negation. 

(4) Note this identification between the Mass and the New Testament, as well as the explanation which follows. 
Here are the reasons alleged by Luther against the Offertory - which practically disappeared from the new Ordo. 

(5) We have already observed (p. 43), that, according to the commentators of the B.A.C., in the Offertory of the 
new Ordo, one does not ask God that He accept our offerings, but rather one praises God for the good things 
which He has given us and which we now present to Him. And it is difficult to say that this interpretation given to 
the new Offertory is unfounded. 

(6) J. Riviere , article “Messe”, in the Diet, de Theol. Oath., col. 1086. 

(7) See p. 83. 

(8) J. Riviere , ibidem, col. 1086. 

It is not then without foundation that numerous theologians of our days have pointed out 

as suspect the insistence of the new Ordo in affirming that the Mass is a supper - above all granted that such 
insistence has been accompanied by a marked de-emphasis on the sacrificial character of the Mass. 


Further on, J. Riviere observes that Luther, 

“did not prohibit that the priests celebrate, as long as they interpreted the formulae of the Missal in the 
sense of his theology of sacrifice, and that they did not have any other objective except to give 
communion to the faithful and to pray for them” (1). 

* * * 

We shall terminate this item by enumerating rapidly some other facts from the beginnings of 
Protestantism related by J. Riviere: 

1) In a letter addressed to Melanchthon on August 1, 1521, Luther proposed to never 
more celebrate on his own initiative, a private Mass (2). 

2) The Augustinians of the convent of Wittenberg, following the footsteps of Luther 
introduced very serious modifications into the liturgy. They began to distribute communion under two 
species, even prohibited communion under one species, and abolished private Masses (3). 

3) Melanchthon, at the same time as he declares himself in favour of communion under 
two species said that private Mass “is nothing more than a mere sham, a pure act of theatre” (nisi 
merum ludibrium, mera scena”). He denied to the Mass, its sacrificial character. He insisted on the 
principle of the universal priesthood, confounding thus the priesthood of the priest with that of the 
people (4). 

4) Luther also, in a work which was published in January 1522, “takes pains to show 
that the Scriptures do not know another priesthood except that of Christ, in which all Christians 
participate equally” (5). 

5) About the doctrine of the Mass in the celebrated “Confession of Augsberg”, the first 
and principal symbol of faith of the Lutheran churches, J. Riviere writes: 

“(...) the Mass is the object of a long, although not very explicit exposition, in the Confession of 
Augsberg (...). 

In no other point perhaps, is the writing of this celebrated document so clever and so tempered. The 
Mass does not figure in the first part, consecrated to the “principal articles of faith”, but only in the 
second, among “the articles in which are enumerated the abuses which have been eliminated”, after the 

(1) Idem, ibidem, col. 1087. 

Therefore, during a certain time, Luther had found himself forced to tolerate the use of the traditional Mass, - 
although he already 

obliged his followers to interpret it in the sense of his heresies. 

It is impossible not to see a suggestive similarity between this temporization of Luther and that of the 
neomodernists of today, who still see themselves forced to use, against their will, certain traditional expressions of 
the new Ordo, though interpreting them in the sense of their heterodox doctrines. 

(2) Idem, ibidem, col. 1087. 

(3) Idem, ibidem, cols. 1087-1088. 

(4) Idem, ibidem, col. 1088. - On the placing of the layman on the same footing as the priest in the reform 
introduced by the new Ordo, see pp. 15 ft. 

(5) Idem, ibidem, col. 1088. - A similar idea is defended by the commentators of the B.A.C., as we have 
indicated on pp. 19-20. 


questions of the communion of the faithful also in the chalice, and the marriage of the priests. 
Evidently, this was calculated, in order to give it to be understood that there they were treating merely 
disciplinary problems. 

“The accusation made against our Churches, that they have abolished the Mass, is false. For the 
Mass is conserved among us and is celebrated with great reverence”. A comforting declaration! The 
scruple is carried even to the point of proclaiming an almost complete liturgical conformism: “Almost 
all the customary ceremonies are even preserved”. The only difference is that songs in the vernacular 
were added to the Latin hymns, and nothing could be more natural and more beneficial than that. 
Afterwards, the people are invited to communion, and are prepared for it by means of pious instructions 
on the value of the sacrament. This cult is evidently carried out with the end of glorifying God and 
promoting the good of souls. Therefore this slightly ironical conclusion: “For this reason, we do not see 
that among our adversaries the Masses are celebrated with greater piety than among ourselves” (1). 

C. A Lutheran Work on the Liturgy 

In order to complement the observations which have been made up to this point about the 
liturgical reform of Luther, we shall analyze in what follows certain elements furnished by the work 
“The Lutheran Liturgy”, by Luther D. Reed (2). The author, a Lutheran pastor of the United States, 
published numerous books about the matter. For thirty-four years he taught liturgy in the Lutheran 
Theological Seminary of Philadelphia. He is one of the principal figures of a movement which has been 
trying to give a certain uniformity to the Lutheran liturgy in the United States for the last fifty years. 

As we have already treated the great doctrinal principles of Lutheran liturgical reform, we shall 
only indicate some observations of L. Reed in this respect. We shall pay special attention to certain 
considerations of the liturgical order made by the author, which will furnish material for us to compare 
the new Orclo with the Lutheran supper. 

* * 

(1) J. Riviere , article “Messe”, in the Diet, de Theol. Cath., cols. 1089-1090. 

(2) Fortress Press, Philadelphia, second edition, 1959, XXIII - 824 pp. 


The repudiation of the notion of the Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice: 

“The idea of sacrifice can not be dissociated from the Sacrament, for the memorial which our Lord 
commanded his disciples to make centers in the thought of his body given and his blood shed for the 
salvation of men. All Christians recognized Christ’s sacrifice on the cross as the only and all-sufficient 
sacrifice for sin. Where they differ is an their views concerning subjective aspects of sacrifice, and the 
manner and extent to which believers share in the sacrifice of Christ. 

We can not compromise with pagan or Roman (rather than earlier Gallican) conceptions of the offering 
of material things and of our own human action as a propitiatory sacrifice. We do, however, recognize 
the eucharistic sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. There are other ideas of sacrifice too, which, though 
valid, fell under suspicion in the violence of reformation debate and the necessity of opposing the 
massive medieval belief in propitiatory sacrifice” (1). 

* * * 

Some general characteristics of the Liturgical Reform of Luther: 

“Luther’s constructive efforts also definitely promoted vernacular services and active 

congregational participation in worship. He gave the sermon great importance, restored the chalice to 

all communicants, and greatly increased frequency of communion” (2). 

“(...) the Lutherans, in Germany and Scandinavia particularly, found in worship a new and significant 
possession in which all might share and rejoice. L. Fendt says: “Nowhere does the pulse (Blut -welle) 
of the Reformation beat so warmly as in its worship. Worship is the body in which Luther’s spirit 
entered into the life of the people” (“Der lutherische Gottesdienst des 16, Jahrhunderts”, p. V). When we 
understand worship as including within its framework not only the liturgy but extensive readings from 
Scripture, effective preaching, and a great development of congregational song and artistic choral music, 
we know that this is not an overstatement” (3). 

(1) L. Reed , op cit. P 236. - On the negation of the propitiatory character of the Mass, one may also see in the 
same work, on pp. 55, 59, 107 and 339. 

(2) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 80. 

(3) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 107. 


The communal character of the Lutheran worship: 

“The medieval church destroyed the earlier unity and the sense of corporate worship by emphasizing the 
priestly class and by relieving the laity of active participation. The Reformation corrected this and re- 
emphasized the priesthood of believers and the congregational character of worship. Masses without 
communicants were forbidden and actual communion by the people was promoted. The use of 
vernacular, together with the development of hymnody and of popular preaching, were significant 

The Lutheran Confiteor, Offertory, and Canon: 

“The Most radical reform of the liturgy made by Luther and his followers was the omission of the 
Offertory and Canon. Up to this point the outline of the medieval Mass was followed closely, and, 
except for the Confiteor , comparatively few changes were made in the text” (2). 

Let us examine then with special attention the Confiteor , Offertory and Canon of the Lutheran 


1. The Lutheran Confiteor 

On comparing the Confiteor of the new Orclo Missae with that of the Lutherans, we should keep in mind 
that the pseudo-Reformers encountered great difficulty in writing a Confiteor which expressed their 
doctrines in a suitable way: 

“Providing an evangelical form of confession was a slow and uneven procedure” (3). 

The principal reason for that difficulty was that all the texts which were known were of medieval 
composition. This being the case, the Reformers 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 234. The capitals are ours. - In the following paragraphs, L. Reed emphasizes the 
communal character of the 

cult according to Luther. 

(2) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 334. 

(3) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 258. 


could not use existent forms because of their doctrinal impurity” (1). 

There are however, between the Confiteor of the new Ordo and that of the Lutherans certain 
common characteristics which attract our attention. 

* * * 

L. Reed writes: 

“Recognizing the principle of the priesthood of all believers, the Confession was made a congregational 
instead of a priestly act” (2). 

This being the case, certain parts of the Lutheran Confiteor are only pronounced by the minister. Others 
are dialogued between the minister and the people, and finally others are said jointly by the minister and 
by the people (3). 

Also in the new Ordo Missae the Confiteor is composed of some parts pronounced only by the 
priest, others which are dialogued with the people, and of a Confiteor properly so called which is recited 
together by the priest and the people. 

Justifying this way of proceeding, the Institutio of the Liturgical Commission included the 
“penitential act” among the “parts which are very useful to manifest and to favour the active 
participation of the faithful, and which are attributed to all the assembly” (number 16). It is also placed 
among the rites “whose end is to bring it about that the faithful united constitute one community and 
dispose themselves to hear as they ought the word of God and to celebrate worthily the Eucharist” 
(number 24). And it emphasizes that “the penitential act” “is realized by all the community, be means of 
a general confession” (number 29). 

In very incisive terms the commentators of the B.A.C. emphasize the communal character of the 
new “penitential rite”: 

“The liturgy of the rite of entrance, has as its end to reveal the presence of God in the assembly, create a 
community of faith and to prepare it to hear the divine word and to offer the sacrifice. 

The penitential rite, in the context of the entrance receives special emphasis and over all be considered 
as a novelty of the new Ordo , which prepares and disposes us for the celebration of the sacred 
mysteries” (4). 

* * * 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit. , p. 257. 

(2) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 257. - On the communal character of the initial rites both of the Lutheran Mass as well as 
of the new Ordo, compare the Institutio, numbers 7 and 24, with L. Reed, op. cit., p. 252. 

(3) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 255-256. 

(4) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 34. 


In the work of L. Reed, we read: 

“It (the Confession) was addressed (by the Reformers) to God alone, and all references to intercessions 
by the Virgin and the saints were omitted” (1). 

The “penitential rite” of the new Orclo consists of three formulae, among which the priest will 
select that which he judges most opportune. The second and the third do not contain any reference at all 
to Our Lady or the Saints. The first, which is a bad copy of the Traditional Confiteor, eliminates entirely 
in the introductory part, that is in the confession of sins, the reference “to the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, 
to the Blessed Michael the Archangel, to the Blessed John the Baptist, to the Holy Apostles Peter and 
Paul, and to all the Saints”; in the final part it conserves a laconic petition of intercession directed “to the 
Blessed Mary ever Virgin, to all the Angels and Saints (...)”. 

* * * 

As is known, according to Protestant doctrine the sins of men are not pardoned properly 
speaking through the merits of Christ and the practice of good works, but are only as it were covered 
over, in him who believes, by the merits of Our Lord. 

Although the Lutheran liturgy contains such expressions as “remissions of sins”, “pardon” (2), 
such terms must be interpreted according to Protestant doctrines. And there are unequivocal signs that 
this is the interpretation accepted by them: at the end of the Confession, the minister does not give the 
absolution, but makes a so called “Declaration of Grace” (3); in the liturgical text there is no clear 
reference to the conversion of the sinner, but “believing in the name of Christ” is sufficient to make one 
a son of God (4); etc. 

Also in the new Ordo Missae are conserved terms that apparently are sufficient to express the 
Catholic doctrine about the remission of sins. It speaks of “penance”, of “confession of sins”, of 
“pardon”, of “contrite hearts”, etc. 

However, various of the innovations introduced make one fear that these terms be interpreted in 
senses different form the traditional ones, resulting there from a lessening of the faith in certain dogmas 
relative to pardon of sins. 

Thus it is that the commentators of the B.A.C. attribute to the Institutio, in this particular, an 
intention which is frankly irreconcilable with Catholic doctrine. They say: 

“For the three formulae of the penitential act there is proposed the following introductory admonition: 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit. , p. 257. 

(2) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 255-256. 

(3) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 259. 

(4) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 255-256. 


before celebrating the sacred mysteries, let us recognize our sins”, which is followed by a brief silence 
(1). Prescribing this brief introductory admonition, avoids the danger that in this moment anyone make 
a small homily with the objective of stirring up sentiments of conversion” (2). 

Note that, while the priest and the commentator may give numerous explanations and make 
various advertences in the course of the New Mass (3), the possibility that the priest try to stir up 
“sentiments of conversion” before the Confiteor constitutes a “danger”... 

On the other hand, there were eliminated from the new Ordo two prayers of the traditional 
Missal which clearly mark Catholic principles regarding the pardon of sins: 

1) “May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution and remission of 
our sins. Amen”. 

2) “Take away from us, O Lord, we beseech Thee, our iniquities, so that we may enter 
into the Holy of Holies with pure hearts. Through Christ our Lord. Amen”. 

2. The Lutheran Offertory 

In the primitive Church, the faithful carried their gifts to the altar at the moment of the Offertory. They 
symbolized thus the gift of themselves to God, at the same time that they provided for the support of the 
priests, the necessities of the poor, etc. 

With the passage of time, this ceremony was enriched with magnificent prayers which expressed 
the sacrificial sense of the Mass and its propitiatory purpose, in which we pray to God for the living and 
the dead, etc., When the Offertory procession fell into disuse, these prayers, which evidently were 
contrary to the concepts of Luther about the purpose of the Mass, remained. 

Expounding the attitude of the Protestants in relation to the Offertory, L. Reed writes: 

“The offertory procession was continued in many localities until late in the Middle Ages. When it 
finally ceased its place was taken by a series of ceremonies and prayers of entirely different character. 
These developed as a sacerdotal function instead of an action of the people. They anticipated the 
consecration and the “miracle of the Mass” (4) and invoked the divine blessing in view of the eucharistic 
sacrifice to be offered. 

(1) Another small point of resemblance between the Lutheran liturgy and the new Ordo Missae\ in both the 
Confiteor is accompanied by brief silence for meditation on one’s own sins. Among the Lutherans, this silence 
comes after the Confession; in the new Ordo, before. 

(2) Nuevas Normas ..., p. 36. 

(3) Institutio, nn. 11 and 68a. 

(4) In the sense in which there is in the Offertory a legitimate and praiseworthy “anticipation” of the true offering of 
Our Lord to God the Father, which will be made after the Consecration, see note 3 on p. 42. 


By the fourteenth century this so-called “little canon” included, besides the prayers, the mingling of the 
water with the wine, the offering of the host and of the chalice, the incensing of the altar and the 
elements, and the washing of hands. The Offertory prayers were of mixed origin, chiefly Gallican. 
They were admittedly of poorer quality than the prayers of the Canon which followed. The central 
prayer of the Offertory, Suscipe Sancte Pater , is a perfect exposition of the Roman doctrine of the 
sacrifice of the Mass (1) (...). 

All the Reformers rejected the Roman Offertory and its idea of a sin offering by the priest instead of a 
thank offering by the people. Luther, with his conviction of the Sacrament as a gift of God to man and 
not an offering of man to God (2), called the Roman Offertory an “abomination” which made 
“everything sound and smell of oblation”. “Repudiating all things which reek of sacrifice and of the 
Offertory, together with entire Canon - wrote Luther - let us retain those things which are pure and 
holy, and thus order our Mass” (. Formula Missae, 1523)” (3). 

* * * 

The new Offertory conserves certain expressions which at first sight would appear to clash with 
the doctrines of Luther about the pardon of sins and the Mass in general: “sacrifice”, “contrite heart”, 
“offering” of the bread and wine, “wash me” of my iniquity, etc. 

However, an attentive analysis of the texts reveals that those expressions are encountered in 
almost identical terms, in the verses from the psalms and other texts of the Offertory of the Lutheran 
Mass (4): 

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”; 

“Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness: with bumt-offering and whole burnt- 

“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving”; 

“Create in me a clean heart, O God”; etc. 

* * * 

The Lutherans reduced the Offertory to the presentation of the gifts of the people and to the 
preparation of the bread and the wine to be distributed in the Communion (5). 

Also in the new Ordo the Offertory appears to be oriented in this direction. The Offertory 
procession, restored in many Lutheran communities as well (6), emphasizes the part of the offering of 
the gifts 

(1 ) On this point, L. Reed is altogether right. And if Luther and his followers rejected in such a categorical manner the Catholic Offertory, it is 
not in the ultimate analysis for historical reasons, rather it is due to the unmistakably priestly and propitiatory character of its principle prayers. 
A proof of this is that Luther and the Lutherans did not hesitate to introduce new prayers and ceremonies, when there was a question of 
making evident their also new concepts about the Mass. That is what happened, for example, with the prayers of the Conliteor, composed by 
the pseudo-Reformers right in the XVI century (see pp. 93 ff.); as well as with the novelties adopted in the “Prayer of the Faithful”, in order to 
“accentuate Lutheran ideas” ( L. Reed , op. cit., p. 318); the same thing also took place with the repudiation by Luther of the sacrificial character 
of the Mass, which he however recognized as having a patristic foundation; etc. 

(2) As we have already pointed out (p. 43), in the new Ordo , according to the commentators of the B.A.C., we no longer ask the blessing of 
God over the bread and the wine, but we praise God for the bread and the wine which Fie has given to us, and which we now present to Flim. 
- The text of L. Reed cited here shows clearly the Lutheran character of this concept of the Offertory, which however could appear orthodox to 
an unwary reader. 

(3) L. Reed , op. cit.. p. 312. 

(4) See L. Reed , op. cit.. pp. 310-31 1 . 

(5) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 308 ff. 

(6) See L. Reed , op. cit.. pp. 309, 312. 


by the people. And the new name of the Offertory, “Preparation of the gifts” (1), tries to introduce 
among Catholics the idea that, in this part of the Mass, the action of the priest consists essentially in 
“preparing” the bread and wine for its administration to the people, at the same time that, by way of a 
mere accompaniment, certain prayers are recited or sung (2). 

* * * 

The “Prayer of the Church” also known as “Universal Prayer”, “General Prayer” and “Prayer of 
the Faithful” forms a part of the Lutheran Offertory. 

This part of the Mass, which had ceased to be used, was reintroduced before the Offertory by 
Vatican II (3), and is now presented by the Institutio as a prayer in which the people “exercise their 
priestly function” (number 45). The commentators of the B.A.C. also attribute very great importance to 
this prayer, saying that “it is a priestly intercession of the people of God”, “pertaining to the very 
structure of the celebration”, “as one among several fixed, invariable, and mandatory elements” (4). 

On the Prayer of the Faithful, L. Reed writes: 

“It is one of the outstanding elements in the liturgy and probably the one above all others which 
illustrates the congregation’s active exercise of its functions as a priesthood of believers. We 
instinctively feel that the principal service of the Lord’s Day or festival could not be complete without 
some such lofty, pure, and acceptable form of prayer” (5). 

“The Reformation - explains L. Reed - restored this general church prayer to the Lutheran and the 
Anglican liturgies after it had degenerated in medieval times into a series of commemorations of the 
departed, invocation of the saints, etc., scattered through the Offertory and Canon” (6). 

Both among Lutherans as well as according to the new Ordo, the Prayer of the Faithful asks God 
for the religious and civil authorities, for men of every condition, for the salvation of the whole world 
(7). The Lutherans say it without interruption, or with the following response of the people after each 
invocation: “We beseech Thee to hear us, Good Lord” (8). In accordance with the post-Conciliar 
reforms and the new Ordo, the people answer to each invocation made by the priest: “Lord, hear our 

Referring to the Offertory and the Prayer of the Faithful in the Protestant liturgies, L. Reed 


“Reformation developments thus restored to the Communion Service (that is, to the Mass) two 
important features of early 

(1) Institutio, number 49. 

(2) “If there is to be a communion, the minister now prepares for the administration” - L. Reed , op. cit., p. 310. 
“When there is a Communion, the Minister, after Silent Prayer, and during the singing of the Offertory, shall 
uncover the Vessels and reverently prepare for the Administration of the Holy Sacrament” - Lutheran rubric, 
referred by L. Reed , op. cit., p. 31 0. 

(3) “Sacros, Cone.,”, n. 53. 

(4) Nuevas Normas . . . , p. 119. 

(5) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 315. 

(6) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 31 6. 

(7) See: Institutio, nn. 45-46: L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 312 ft. 

(8) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 31 2 ft. 


Christian worship - the people’s offering of gifts and the people’s offering of praise and intercession” 

( 1 ). 

These elements are also found in the new Orclo Missae. 

3. The Lutheran Canon 

“The lengthy prayers of the Roman Canon - writes L. Reed - definitely interpret the Eucharist as a 
propitiatory sacrifice. They also include commemorations of the living and the dead, venerations of the 
Virgin, the apostles and the saints, prayers for the departed, etc. These all lead to an embellished form 
of the Words of Instruction, of which recitation by the priest is supposed to secure the miraculous 
change of the elements into the very body and blood of Christ (...). 

Because the prayers of the Roman Canon, with their ceremonies (...) were such truthful expositions of 
corrupt medieval doctrine, all the Reformers denounced them. Many attempts were made to revise them 
in an evangelical sense” (2). 

In their turn, in the Eucharistic Prayers of the new Or do the references to the Mass as a 
propitiatory sacrifice (3) were weakened; the invocations of Our Lady, of the Apostles and Saints were 
reduced (4); the prayers for the departed were reduced (5); numerous acts of veneration and respect 
which the Protestants would classify as “anti-evangelical embellishments”: inclinations, blessings, 

genuflections, kisses, etc. (6), were omitted. 

* * * 

After indicating certain reforms of the Canon made by Protestants of less importance, L. Reed 


“Zwingli replaced the Canon by four prayers which led to the Verba (7). Calvin at Geneva developed an 
elaborate and heavily didactic Preface and omitted practically everything of the ancient Canon. 
Archbishop Cranmer in the English Book of Common Prayer (1549) reached out constructively in an 
extended prayer of consecration which recast much of the Canon in an evangelical sense and combined 
with it certain features from the Eastern and other Western liturgies. 

Luther was the most vehement of all the Reformers in denunciation of the Canon. He characterized it as 
the “mangled and abominable Canon gathered from every source of filth and corruption”, and 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit. , p. 309. 

(2) L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 339-340. 

(3) See pp. 1 1 ff. 

(4) See pp. 51 and 54; the new Confiteor, etc. 

(5) See pp. 54-55. 

(6) See p. 50. 

(7) The Protestants frequently call the formulae of the Consecration “Verba" (“Words”). 


declared that it changed the very nature of the Sacrament into “cursed idolatry and sacrilege”. He said 
that by the silent repetition of the Verba “the devil has in a masterly manner stolen from us the chief 
thing in the Mass and put it to silence”. Taking advantage of the fact that the Canon was said secretly, 
he suggested that all that sounded of sacrifice could be omitted without offense to the people inasmuch 
as they did not hear it. His Formula Missae (text of the Mass in Latin) cut out everything in the Canon 
except the Verba, which the minister was ordered to chant aloud. The Lord’s Prayer and the Pax 
followed immediately. In his German Mass he placed a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer first and 
followed this by the Verba. 

This was Luther’s most radical Liturgical reform (of the Canon) (...). With a single bold stroke he 
completely changed the character of the liturgy at this point. The Holy Communion became again a 
sacrament, or gift from God, instead of a sacrifice offered to God” (1). 

* * * 

In the new Ordo, the Canon came to be called the “Eucharistic Prayer”, which is characterized as 
“a prayer of thanksgiving and sanctification” ( Institutio , number 54). The expression was common in 
primitive times. The term “Canon” is conserved only for the first Eucharistic Prayer: the Roman Canon. 

L. Reed writes: 

“Eucharistic Prayer: in the Lutheran use, the Prayer of thanksgiving in the Holy Communion”: 

and in what follows shows that he is treating of a part corresponding to the Canon (2). Reed also 
reserves the term “Canon” for the Roman Canon, although he admits that historically it has a broader 
sense (3). 

* * * 

An age old controversy between Catholics and Protestants has to do with the moment of 
Consecration. The latter, denying the transubstantiation, have no motive whatever to admit that Our 
Lord becomes present in the exact moment in which the words of Consecration are pronounced. 

Charles M. Jacobs, a Lutheran author, very respected in his sect writes: 

“The Real Presence of Christ with the bread and wine of the Eucharist presents no difficulties to faith. If 
we believe that Jesus died and rose again and is our living Lord and Savior, why should we not believe 
that He can be really present, where and as 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 340-341. 

(2) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 764. - See also the same work, p. 751 . 

(3) L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 761 , 334 ff. 


He wills? If we believe that the Christ who now lives is the same Jesus who endured the suffering of the 
Cross, why should we doubt that His humanity, as well as His deity, is present in and with the 
Sacrament? If we believe that, in the Resurrection, Christ’s human body was transformed, and became, 
in St. Paul’s phrase, “a spiritual body”, why should we stumble at the thought of a “bodily presence”?... 
(...) We who believe in this Presence are sure that it is “real”. It is not contingent upon the faith of 
those who receive or those who administer the Sacrament, but is for all alike, for believers and 
unbelievers, for the godly and the ungodly. It depends in no way upon our perception of it. But to those 
who are conscious of it, it becomes an additional assurance of the promise, which the Sacrament 
confers, “of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation”. It belongs to the “sign” be which our faith is 
strengthened and increased” (1). 

Within this conception, there is no place, as we see, for the transubstantiation, nor for the 
determination of a precise moment in which Our Lord becomes present on the altar. For this reason, 
according to what we have already observed (2), the Protestants deny that which they call pejoratively 
the “miracle of the Mass” admitted by Catholics. For identical reasons, L. Reed writes: 

“The Roman church shifted the emphasis from the offering and the thanksgiving to the consecration, and 
limited this latter to a precise moment” (3). 

In consideration of these Protestant concepts, item number 2, of number 48 of the Institutio as 
well as the respective commentary of the B.A.C. take on a special gravity: 

The Institutio says: 

“In the Eucharistic prayer we give thanks to God for all the work of salvation, and the offerings become 
the Body and Blood of Christ” (4). 

On this point the commentators of the B.A.C. observe: 

“In item 2) it is said that in the Eucharistic Prayer the human bread is converted into the bread of Christ, 
and in this way the Church can unite herself to Jesus Christ, thus having the true oblation, the true 
offering, the true sacrifice of the Church. It is the vertical and ascendent sense of the Christian life. 
Note the deliberate indetermination of the moment of conversion of the eucharistic species, to avoid 
entering into scholastic disquisitions about the precise instant in which the conversion is realized” (5). 

(1) Charles M. Jacobs , The Ministry and the Sacraments (London: S. C. M. Pr., 1937), pp. 142-144 - cited by L. 
Reed , op. cit., p. 232. 

(2) Page 96. 

(3) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 335 

(4) A text which we have already cited on p. 7. 

(5) Nuevas Normas ..., pp. 123-124. 


But note also - we observe - if they do not enter in to these scholastic disquisitions, they do 
institute and Ordo Missae which is acceptable by the Lutherans and, above all, they throw a veil of 
doubt over the dogma of the transubstantiation. 

* * * 

In respect to the text of the Consecration L. Reed writes: 

“Luther in his Latin Service (1523), omitted several medieval embellishments and added the scriptural 
phrase, “which is given for you” (also in the Mozarabic), after the words “This is my Body”. The 
English Book of Common Prayer followed the Lutheran form (...)” (1). 

The Ordinary of the Mass of 1969 also added the words “which will be given for you” (“quod 
pro vobis tradetur” - I Cor. 11, 24) to the consecratory formula “For this is my Body” (“Hoc Est enim 
Corpus Meum”) (2). 

* * 

12 ). 

The Institutio establishes that the words of the Consecration be pronounced aloud (numbers 10, 

In his Latin Mass, as well as in that which he composed in German, Luther also determined that 
these words should be said aloud (3). This procedure, common among Protestants, also still holds in the 
present day Lutheran liturgies (4). 

4. Other Aspects of the Lutheran Supper 

Having mad these observations in respect to the Confiteor, the Offertory and the Canon, it is fitting that 
we also make here some other comments about the Luther supper. 

* * * 

As we have already seen (5), the new Ordo reduced very much the number of the signs of the 
cross made by the priest during the Mass. 

In the work of L. Reed, we read: 

“The church at the time of the Reformation reacted against the excessive and superstitious use of the 
sign of the cross which had characterized the late Middle Ages” (6). 

* * 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit. , p. 360. 

(2) There have been theologians according to whom the clause “which will be given for you” would be essential 
for the Consecration of the bread (see Pesch , Praelectiones..., tomus VI, n 772). This thesis is no longer 
defended today. It is however to be feared that in this point, once more, the Institutio furnishes an occasion to 
resuscitate old doubts about the essential form of the Consecration and the exact moment in which the 
transubstantiation is realized. 

(3) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 72, 78. 

(4) See L. Reed , op. cit., p. 360: Liturgia Luterana, p. 19. 

(5) P.50. 

(6) L. Reed . Op. cit., p. 254. 


In the traditional Catholic liturgy, the Kyrie eleison consists of nine invocations: three times 
Kyrie eleison , three times Christe eleison and then again three times Kyrie eleison. 

The new Ordo reduced these from nine to six, each supplication being pronounced only one time 
by the priest and one time by the people, as we have already indicated (1). 

Also among the Lutherans the Kyrie is said in six invocations (2). 

* * 

As we have already seen (3), in the first edition of the Institutio of the Liturgical Commission, 
the Consecration was simply indicated by words “narration of the institutio”. The Lutherans also 
employ this expression. Thus it is that in enumerating the divers parts of the Eucharistic Prayer, L. Reed 
says that one of these is the “narrative of the institution of the Sacrament” (4). 

In another passage, he observes: 

“Luther rejected the entire Canon and retained only the scriptural narrative of the institution and the 
Lord’s Prayer” (5). 

Let no one say that for the Lutherans it is a question of a mere historical narration while in the 
context of the Institutio it is made clear that by these words the bread and the wine become the Body and 
Blood of Our Lord. For the Lutherans also admit this, as long as one does not speak of 

“The use of the Verba at this point is more than the recital of a historic event or the citation of authority 
to engage in this holy proceeding. It is a solemn, corporate act of prayer, an exalted liturgical 
celebration, in which the worshiping congregation apprehends and hold aloft the divine promises, claims 
the divine warrant and invokes the divine blessing. It becomes a vivid and exalted rite as the minister 
not only repeats our Lord’s own words, but in a measure imitates his actions. In the scriptural narrative 
the actions are given importance equal to that of the words” (6). 

In that which follows, L. Reed cites a text relative to the same matter from The Lutheran 
Cyclopedia : 

“The Words of Institutio are addressed to God. They are the warrant of the act in which we are engaged, 
and of the faith nourished by the Sacrament, and they ask and receive from the 

(1) P.39. 

(2) See L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 271, 767. 

(3) Pp. 14 ff. 

(4) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 764, article “Eucharistic Prayer”. 

(5) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 335. 

The expression “narration of the institution” also appears on pp. 337 and 357. 

(6) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 360. 


risen Lord the grace by which the bread and wine become, to those who receive them. His Body and His 
Blood” (1). 

And further on L. Reed writes: 

‘‘The consecration is completed by the administration, apart from which there is no sacrament” (2). 

At every step, L. Reed admits that in the communion are present the Body and Blood of Our 
Lord (3); and it is in explaining the concept of transubstantiation that he really distinguishes himself 
from the Catholics in this point: 

“Transubstantiation: the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church which defines the method of the 

change in the elements at the consecration in the Mass: the substance of the bread and wine is changed 
into the substance of the body and blood of Christ - and thereafter only the “accidents” remain; the 
doctrine is specially repugnant to Protestant Christians” (4). 

As one sees, the references of the Institutio, in its edition of 1969 to the Body and Blood of 
Christ (5), are absolutely insufficient to exclude any Protestant interpretation about the manner in which 
Our Lord is present in the Eucharist (6). 

* * 

In relation to the doctrine of real presence, L. Reed writes: 

“By the Real Presence is understood the presence of the whole Christ in the Sacrament - the human as 
well as the divine Christ. The Lutheran denies as strongly as does the Calvinist the teaching of 
transubstantiation, but he believes as strongly as does the Roman Catholic in the Real Presence itself’ 

Once more then, the gravity of the complete omission from the 1969 text of the Institutio, not 
only of the term “transubstantiation”, but even of the expression “real presence” becomes clear (8). 

* * * 

In the primitive Church the formulae “the Body of Christ” and “the Blood of Christ” were used 
for the distribution of Communion. The people responded: “Amen”. Later, other expressions were 

In his Mass in Latin, Luther conserved the traditional formula: “May the Body of Our Lord Jesus 
Christ preserve your soul unto eternal 

(1) Dr. E. T. Horn , in The Lutheran Cyclopedia , p. 282 - referred by L. Reed , op. cit., p. 360. 

(2) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 360. 

(3) For example: pp. 132, 230 ff. 360, 375 ff. The same thing is admitted in divers Lutheran Eucharistic Prayers 
cited by L. Reed : the Order of 1543 of the Church of Pfalz-Neuberg (p. 753); Liturgy of 1576 of King John of 
Sweden (pp. 753-754); The First Prayer Book, of 1549, of King Edward VI of England (pp. 754-755); the Ordinary 
of 1879 of the Lutheran Church in Bavaria, adopted also by the Joint Synod of Ohio in 1884 (pp. 755-756); Book 
of Worship, of 1 936, of the Lutheran Churches in India (pp. 756-757); The Book of the Common Order of 1 940, of 
the Church of Scotland (pp. 757-758): Book of Common Prayer, of 1928, of the Protestant Episcopal Church (pp. 
725 ff.). 

(4) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 772. 

(5) See p. 8. 

(6) In regard to the 1970 edition of the Institutio, in this particular, see pp. 75-78. 

(7) L. Reed , op. cit., p. 231 . 

(8) See pp. 6 ff. - On the manner in which these terms appear in the text of 1 970, see pp. 65, 76-77. 


life. Amen”. In his Mass in German, he did not have any formula at all (1). On this matter there were 
many variations among his followers. In various present-day Lutheran liturgies, they use the formulae 
introduced in the last few years among the Catholics, and conserved by the new Orclo : “the Body of 
Christ” and “the Blood of Christ” (2). 

* * * 

There is among the Protestants a general tendency to put the bread and the chalice into the 
communicants’ own hands. This practice was immediately adopted by Zwingli, and became generalized 
later among the Anglicans, and is permitted to the Lutherans (3). 

The new Ordo does not authorize this practice, but it is becoming more and more prevalent in 
Catholic circles. 

* * * 

For a long time Lutherans have been striving to obtain a certain uniformity in their liturgy. To 
justify that, they based themselves on the principle that, constituting one single Church, they ought to 
have one book of prayers which is the same in each country: “one Church, one book” (4). But, beside 
one text adopted for all, they would like that there be “ample room for differences in practice”, within 
each “congregation” (5). 

This basic uniformity of the liturgy in each country, subjected however, to local variations, 
makes one think of the so ample faculties, which the Episcopal Commissions enjoy in liturgical matters 
at present in the Catholic Church (6), without prejudice to the great liberty which the Institutio concedes 
to the Bishops, to the Priests and even to the simple faithful (7). 

(1) L. Reed , op. cit. , p. 375. 

(2) Among the Lutherans liturgies which adopt these formulae, L. Reed cites the “Common Liturgy” of the North 
American Lutherans, of the Lutherans of Sweden and of the Augustana Church. There is also added the 
expression “given for thee” - an addition made by Luther, and of which there are precedents in certain oriental 
liturgies (see L. Reed , op. cit., pp. 375-376). 

(3) See L. Reed , op. cit., p. 376 - On Zwingli , see the text which we transcribed on pp. 87-88. 

(4) L. Reed , op. cit., pp. VII, 182, etc. 

(5) L. Reed , op. cit., p. XI. 

(6) See the commentary of the B.A.C., pp.42 ff. 

(7) See the systematic index of the commentary of the B.A.C., articles “Conferencia episcopa” and “Fieles”. 



The Infallibility of the Church in the Liturgical Laws 

One may make the following objection to the considerations we have made about the New Mass: 
since the principle that the Church is always infallible in its universal laws, is commonly accepted 
among theologians, it is not lawful even to doubt the doctrinal purity of the Ordo of 1969. This question 
which of late has been discussed frequently, either in connection with the New Mass, or other subjects, 
leads us to examine in this Appendix to Part I, the following problems: 

From the dogmatic and moral viewpoint, are the universal laws of the Church always guaranteed 
by infallibility? Would expressing reservations of a doctrinal character about a universal ecclesiastical 
law, not imply denying the infallible authority of the person who promulgated the law? Let us apply this 
to the case in point: can a true Pope impose upon the whole Church an Ordo Missae susceptible to 
reservations in its dogmatic aspect? If, on the other hand, an ecclesiastical law only involves infallibility 
when it fulfills certain conditions , then has the Ordo of 1969 fulfilled these conditions? 

1. A Thesis which Is Theologically Certain 

To present appropriately the traditional thesis of infallibility in ecclesiastical laws we must, first, put it 
in its place within the ensemble of theses concerning the infallibility of the Church studied in dogmatic 

The theologians customarily distinguish the direct object and the indirect object of the infallible 

First of all they demonstrate that the Church cannot err when it solemnly defines truths which are 
in themselves revealed, that is truths of faith or morals, formally contained, whether explicitly or 
implicitly, in the deposit of revelation. They constitute the direct and primary object of infallibility. 

Then, the treatises go on to study infallibility as far as its indirect and secondary object is 
concerned, that is, the truths which, although not formally revealed, are however so intimately connected 
with Revelation, that 


they are necessary, so that the deposit of faith may be integrally conserved, duly explained, and 
effectively defined (1). 

Among the truths which constitute the indirect object of infallibility, the following are included: 

1. ) the philosophical presuppositions, or the preambles of faith; 

2. ) the theological conclusions, that is, truths which are deduced from two premises, of which 

only one is revealed; 

3. ) dogmatic facts, that is, those which have not been revealed, but which are necessarily 

connected with the exposition and the preservation of the deposit of faith - for example: the legitimacy 
of an Ecumenical Council; the orthodoxy or the heterodoxy of a book; the heroism of the virtues and the 
eternal salvation of the Saints who are offered for the veneration of the faithful; 

4. ) the disciplinary decrees, among which the theological writers include liturgical laws; 

5. ) the approval of the rules of religious orders. 

* * * 

To defend the traditional doctrine on the indirect object of infallibility, the handbooks usually present 
right from the beginning a general thesis, wherein they demonstrate that the Magisterium enjoys 
infallibility, in relation to all the truths which, although they are not revealed, are however necessary to 
preserve the deposit of faith. This is proved both by documents of Tradition, as well as by the argument 
that the Church would lack the indispensable means to accomplish its mission if it were not able to teach 
in an infallible manner those same truths. This general thesis is usually qualified as being at least 
“theologically certain” (2). 

Next, the treatises normally contain a special thesis for each one of the categories of truths, which 
constitute the indirect object of infallibility. This procedure is fully justifiable, it being the case that, in 
spite of the generic reasons which are applied to all the categories, there are, moreover, very different 
specific reasons to justify infallibility as far as each one of them is concerned. For example, special 
arguments may be adduced about the preambles of faith which are not applicable to the disciplinary 
decrees or to the approval of the religious order; infallibility in defining theological conclusions, may be 
demonstrated with reasons which, for example, would not be valid for the canonization of Saints, etc. 

In respect to the “theological note” to be attributed to each one of these specific theses, there is a certain 
diversity of doctrine among the theological writers. However, they are unanimous in considering that 
there is no doubt about the above mentioned thesis. Here are some examples: 

(1) In this respect, one can see, for example, Iraqui , Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, pp. 444 ff. 

(2) Herve , Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 500, and Goupil , L’Eglise, p. 109, for example, consider it theologically 
certain. Other authors attribute to this thesis theological notes of greater importance, Card. Billot considers it “a 
truth most certain in itself” (Tract. De Eccl. Christi, tom. I, p. 394); and citing Card. Franzelin adds: “it is so certain 
theologically, that its negation would be a very grave error, or even, according to the opinion of the majority, 
heresy” (Franzelin, De Trad., th. 12, schol. 1 - apud Billot , op. cit., p. 395). Salaverri judges it to be “at least 
theologically certain” and “proximate to a definition in virtue of the (first) Council of the Vatican” (De Eccl. Christi , 
p. 742). Iraqui classifies it as “at least theologically certain, or rather, proximate to definition” (Man. Theol. Dogm, 
vol. I, p. 446). 


a) The thesis concerning theological conclusions is considered “theologically certain” by Herve 
(1) and Van Noort (2); “at least certain”, by Tanquerey (3); and Pesch qualifies it as follows: 

“at least a theological conclusion, which is not only recognized by the theologians as being certain, but 
which has also been approved and confirmed, although not defined, by the doctrine and practice of the 
ecclesiastical authority” (4). 

b) The thesis about the dogmatic facts is declared “theologically certain” by Herve (5), Van 
Noort (6) and Diekamp (7); and “certain” by Tanquerey (8). 

c) The thesis on the Canonization of the Saints, taken by many theologians as a separate study, 
is qualified as “common and certain doctrine” by Herve (9); as “common opinion today” by Van Noort 
(10); and as a “common and true opinion” by Tanquerey (11). Pesch writes about this matter: 

“The judgements of the theologians concerning the certainty of this doctrine differ considerably, because 
according to some of them it is “pious”, and according to others it is of faith (of, Benedict XIV, De Serv. 
Dei Beatif., I, 45). More commonly they think that it is theologically certain, and we ought to abide by 
this judgment” (12). 

Benedict XIV makes the following pronouncement on this matter: 

“We would qualify the person who dared to affirm that the Pontiff had erred in this Canonization or the 
other, and that any Saint whatsoever canonized by him should not be honored by dulia worship, if not as 
a heretic, then as temerarious; as a scandal to all the Church; as injurious to the Saints; as a favourer of 
the heretics who deny the authority of the Church to canonize the Saints; as having a savour of heresy, 
for he would open the way for the infidels to mock the faithful; as a defender of erroneous propositions, 
and as being subject to the most grave penalties” (13). 

a. The thesis about the disciplinary decrees , among which the liturgical decrees are 
included, is declared “theologically certain” by Herve (14), Van Noort (15), Tanquerey (16), and Pesch 

b. The thesis about the decrees approving the rules of religious orders is considered 
“theologically certain” by Herve (18), Van Noort (19), Tanquerey (20) and D’Herbigny (21). 

* * * 

As is obvious, we do not intend to study the problem of infallibility in all the aspects which we have 
mentioned above, but we will only deal with 

(1) Man. Theol. Dogma., vol. I, p. 502. 

(2) Tract, de Eccl. Christi, p. 99. 

(3) Syn. Theol. Dogm., tom. I, p. 920. 

(4) Compendium..., tom. I, page 247. 

(5) Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 506. 

(6) Tract, de Eccl. Christi, p. 100. 

(7) Theol. Dogm. Man., vol. I, p. 76. 

(8) Syn. Theol. Dogm., tom. I, p. 622. 

On the distinction which exists between a proposition which is "certain" and one which is “theologically certain” see: Cartecini . Dall'Opinione..., p. 8. 

(9) Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 507. 

(1 0) Tract de Eccl. Christi, p. 1 06. 

(11) Syn. Theol. Dogm., tom. I, p. 624. 

(12) Pesch . Compendium..., tom. I, p. 256. 

(13) Benedict XIV . De Serv. Dei Beatif., lib. I, c. 45, n. 28. 

(14) Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 508. 

(15) Tract, de Eccl. Christi, p. 103. 

(16) Syn. Theol. Dogm., tom. I, p. 625. 

(17) Compendium..., tom. I, p. 254. 

(18) Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 509. 

(19) Tract, de Eccl. Christi, p. 105. 

(20) Syn. Theol. Dogm, tom. I, p. 625. 

(21) Theol. De Eccl., vol. II, p. 303. 


the liturgical aspect. It being granted, however, that the works of dogmatic theology usually include the 
liturgical dispositions among the disciplinary decrees when they deal with infallibility, it is not 
convenient for us to study them separately right away. This being so, in the following item (1) we shall 
consider at the same time the liturgical laws (2) and the disciplinary laws in the strict sense. In the topic 
in which we expound what we judge to be the solution of the problem which we are dealing with (3), we 
shall restrict our attention exclusively to liturgy. Furthermore it is necessary to observe that, as we 
believe, the conclusions which we shall reach in respect to the liturgy will be equally valid, in their 
fundamental lines, for the disciplinary decrees in the strict sense. 

As far as the approval of religious orders and canonizations and beatifications are concerned, we 
shall only make passing references to the extent that it is indispensable for the exposition of our theme. 

2. The Church Is Infallible in Matters of Discipline and Liturgy 

In order to show that the thesis of the infallibility of the Church in disciplinary laws has much support 
in Tradition, we shall deduce here some documents which give evidence to this effect. 

To facilitate the understanding of the texts, it is appropriate for us to make some general 
observations now: 

1. The thesis referring to the infallibility of the Church in disciplinary decrees only applies to decrees 
promulgated for the universal Church, because all recognize that in an individual case there may be 
error. The universal Church, in this case, is equivalent to the Latin rite, which, besides representing the 
largest part of the Catholic world, is proper to the Roman See, head of ALL the Churches. In the 
specifically liturgical field, for the same reason, the universal liturgy is equivalent to the Roman. 

2. All authors agree in affirming that infallibility only extends to matters of faith and morals. Thus it is 
that in 

the lessons of the Breviary, the facts which are reported in the biographies of the Saints are not 
guaranteed by infallibility, but what is guaranteed is the moral doctrine which is contained in the facts 

3. The thesis only deals with infallibility in relation to the doctrine explicitly or implicitly contained in 
everything that the law prescribes: acts, words, attitudes, etc. - or in the strictly liturgical field - prayers, 
ceremonies, rubrics, gestures, objects, etc. But the thesis does not deal with the question of whether the 
law is opportune or fit. For it is known that, as far as these prudential aspects are concerned, there may 
be errors in universal ecclesiastic laws. 

(1) Up to the end (p. 124) of the section subordinated to the title “Hesitations and restrictive expressions in 
testimonies of Tradition”. 

(2) In this matter, when the expressions “Liturgical Laws”, “liturgy” or other similar expressions are used, they 
indicate the determinations of the Church in relation to all that which is prescribed for public worship: texts of 
prayers, rubrics, ceremonies, acts, gestures, objects, etc. 

(3) On pp. 124 ff., that is in the topic entitled “Conditions under which liturgical laws involve infallibility”. 


4 . The Thesis does not affirm, by any means, that the law must be the most perfect possible, nor that it 
ought to contain implicitly, all the doctrine about the question to which it refers. But it only deals with 
the non-existence, in that which the law prescribes, of any implicit or explicit error, in matters of faith 
and morals. 

* * 

Having made these preliminary observations, we can now go on to the study of some documents 
of Tradition, which at least seem to affirm or presuppose the thesis that the Church is always infallible in 
its universal laws, both disciplinary in the strict sense, and liturgical. 

a. Saint Augustine wrote: 

“The Church of God, living among much chaff and many tares, tolerates many things; however, that 
which is against faith or morals, it neither approves, passes over in silence, nor does” (1). 

In another work, the Bishop of Hippo expressed himself thus: 

“But then - someone would say - does even a little child need a redeemer? Of course he needs one (...). 
Holy Mother Church herself is witness to this when she receives children for purification by water (...). 
Who will dare to raise up any testimony against such a sublime mother?” (2). 

b. The XVI Council of Carthage, held in 418, teaches that even the just need God’s pardon, and to 
demonstrate this principle it uses a liturgical argument. The Council observes that the just also must 
say: “forgive us, O Lord, our trespasses”, and that in this prayer they ask for grace, and not only for 
others, but also for themselves. Now, this being the official meaning of the prayer of the Church, it is 
not admissible that the just should pray in this manner out of simple humility, but lying to God. And the 
Council argues: 

“For who can admit that he prays, who lying not only to men, but also to God Himself, says with his lips 
that he wishes to be pardoned, and in his heart says that he has no sins to pardon?” (3). 

c. The Indiculus - Annexed to a letter of Saint Celestine I (-432), there used to 

appear the famous “indiculus on the grace of God”, in which semi-Pelagian errors are refuted and 
condemned. Nowadays we know that this document was not written by Saint Celestine I (4); its 
authority, however, continues to be enormous, because of its being explicitly or implicitly approved by 
various later Popes. 

Showing that the Pelagians had against them the unanimous Tradition of the Church, the 
Indiculus says: 

(1) Saint Augustine , Epist. 55 - PL 33, 221-222. 

(2) Saint Augustine , Serm. 293, n. 1 0 - PL 38, 1 333. 

(3) XVI Council of Carthage , can. 8 - Denz.-Sch. 230, Denz.-Umb. 108. - On this document, see Father M. 
Pinto , O Valor ..., p. 191 . 

(4) The Indiculus is attributed today to Prosper of Aquitaine : see Denz.-Sch. 238. 


“Besides these inviolable decrees of the Holy Apostolic See (...), we should also pay attention to the 
sacred mysteries of the priestly prayers, which, being transmitted by the Apostles, are celebrated 
uniformly throughout the whole world and throughout the whole Catholic Church, so that the law of 
prayer may establish the law of faith” (1). 

The final part of this text was later transformed into a theological adage: “Lex orandi lex 
credendi” (“The law of prayer is the law of faith”). With variations in its formulation, but in 
substantially identical meanings, this axiom was also employed in recent years by Pius IX, Pius XI, Pius 
XII and Paul VI. 

Further along in the text, referring to the ceremonies of baptism for example, the exorcisms and 
exsufflations, which express the expulsion of the devil, - the “Indiculus” declares that such practices are 
not an idle spectacle for us, therefore what they express is true (2). 

d. Saint Thomas taught: 

“the custom of the Church has maximum authority, and ought to be followed always 
and in everything” (3). 

With great frequency, the Angelic Doctor uses liturgical arguments to demonstrate his thesis. 
We give one example of this: to prove that the transubstantiation of the bread happens before that of the 
wine, he recalls that fact that the Host is presented for the adoration of the faithful immediately after 
having been consecrated: 

“If this were not the case, if the Body of Christ were not already present there, the priest would sin by 
presenting for the adoration of the people, immediately after the words of consecration, a non- 
consecrated host, because he would induce the people to idolatry” (4). 

e. The Council of Trent often used liturgical arguments to justify its decisions. Thus it 
is that in canon number 4 about the sacrament of Orders, we read: 

“If anybody says that by Sacred Orders, the Holy Spirit is not given, and that, therefore, IT IS IN VAIN 
THAT THE BISHOPS SAY: RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT (...)- let him be anathema” (5). 

In the decree on the veneration of the relics and images of the Saints, the Council approved the 
traditional practices, as being in accordance. 

“with THE CUSTOMS OF THE CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH, admitted since the earliest 
times of the Christian religion, with 

(1) Indiculus, cap. 8 - Denz.-Sch. 246, Denz.-Umb. 139. 

(2) Indiculus, cap. 9 - Denz.-Sch. 247, Denz.-Umb. 140 

(3) Summa Theol., Il-lll, 10, 12, c. 

(4) Saint Thomas , as I Cor. II, 25, n. 673. 

(5) Denz.-Sch. 1774, Denz.-Umb. 964. - The capitals are ours. 


The common opinion of the Holy Fathers and with the decrees of the Sacred Councils” (1). 

Still in relation to the relics and images of the Saints, the Council of Trent condemned those who 

“affirm that the relics of Saints are not owed veneration and honour, or that these, and the other holy 
objects are HONOURED IN VAIN BY THE FAITHFUL, and that IN VAIN IS the memory of the 
Saints CELEBRATED, seeking their intercession” (2). 

f. Sixtus V declared: 

“The sacred rites and ceremonies (...) contain great teachings for the Christian people and a profession 
of true faith (...)” (3). 

g. Saint Robert Bellarmine, in his opinion read in the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, in the 
presence of the Pope, about the possible definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, gave the 
following pronouncement: 

“If a formal definition is not made now, then it should at least be prescribed for all the secular and 
regular ecclesiastics that they should recite the Office of the Immaculate Conception, as the Church 
does: for thus, without any definition, we would obtain what is desired” (4). 

h. Pius VI, in the Constitution “Auctorem Fidei”, which condemned the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia, used 
numerous arguments based on the legislation and the practice of the Church. Here we reproduce some 
of them: 

“(...) as if the Church, guided by the Spirit of God, could institute a discipline not only useless and more 
onerous than Christian liberty can stand, but also dangerous and prejudicial, which leads to superstition 
and materialism” (5). 

“(...) as if the order in force in the liturgy, accepted and approved by the Church, could in any way 
result from forgetting the principles by which the Church ought to guide herself’ (6). 

Pius VI also condemned the proposition of the Council of Pistoia, according to which; 

“the institution of new feasts originated from negligence in the observation of the old ones, and in false 
notions about the 

(1 ) Denz.-Sch. 1 821 , Denz.-Umb. 984. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Denz.-Sch. 1 822, Denz.-Umb. 985. - The capitals are ours. 

(3) Apostolic Constitution Immensa , in the Bull. Rom., tom. II, p. 465. 

(4) Apud Oppenheim , Institutiones..., vol. VII, p. 107. 

(5) Denz.-Sch. 2678, Denz.-Umb. 1578. 

(6) Denz.-Sch. 2633, Denz.-Umb. 1533. 


nature and end of those same solemnities” (1). 

i. Dublanchy expressed as follows in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique : 

‘‘The infallibility of the Church ought to be extended to all dogmatic or moral teaching which, in the 
practical order, is included in that which is IMPOSED, APPROVED OR AUTHORIZED by the general 
discipline of the Church (...). 

This is the rigorous consequence of the teaching of the New Testament. For the infallibility which Jesus 
Christ guaranteed to his Church (...), APPLICABLE TO ALL TEACHING really and effectively given 
by the ecclesiastical magisterium, ought also to be applied to all teaching necessarily included in the 
laws, in the practices or in the customs ESTABLISHED, APPROVED OR AUTHORIZED by the 
universal Church, since this practical or indirect teaching is, above all since it is an authority which is in 
itself infallible, as real and efficacious as the direct doctrinal teaching” (2). 

This passage of Dublanchy appears to us to merit very special attention, because, as we shall see, 
many theologians want to restrict infallibility to disciplinary decisions which impose the practice of 
some act. Now, if the Church has, in its universal legislation, an absolute infallibility, without any 
distinctions, we do not see how this infallibility can be restricted to her preceptive pronouncements - for 
to approve or to authorize positively certain actions can be as important, for morality, as to impose 
certain others. The true solution of this problem does not lie in distinguishing the preceptive decrees for 
those which are not preceptive, but, as we shall show further on, in establishing the conditions in which 
the Church is infallible in its decrees in general; whether they are preceptive or not (3). 

j. Haegy, in his Manuel de Liturgie et Ceremonial , wrote: 

“The acts of the liturgy have dogmatic value; they are the expression of the worship of God in 

the Church. Now, the exterior manifestation of worship has an intimate relation with faith. To be 

rational worship can not fail to be in accordance with faith” (4). 

k. Pius XI declared, in the Apostolical Constitution Divini Cultus, that by liturgy “we proclaim our 
faith” (5). 

And in the Bull Inter multiplices, the same Pontiff taught: 

“the missals have always been considered of great importance as monuments of Christian piety and of 
remote antiquity, in which 

(1) Denz.-Sch. 2673, Denz.-Umb. 1573. 

(2) Dublanchy , article “Eglise”, in the Diet, de Theol. Cath., col. 2197. - The capitals are ours. 

(3) These conditions are indicated on pp. 124 ft. 

(4) Haegy , Manuel ..., tome I, p. 2. 

(5) Ed. Bonne Presse, p. 173. 


the Church affirms its living faith” (1). 

l. Wernz- Vidal: 

“The Roman Pontiffs are infallible in making universal laws about the ecclesiastical 

discipline, in such a way that they might never establish anything against faith and morals, even though 

they do not reach the supreme degree of prudence” (2). 

m. Pius XII, referring to the sacred liturgy, wrote: 

“The integrity of faith and morals should be the characteristic norm of this sacred discipline, which must 
conform absolutely to the most wise teachings of the Church” (3). 

3. A Thesis to Be Considered in its Nuances 

As we have seen the thesis that the disciplinary and liturgical decrees, promulgated for the universal 
Church, are always guaranteed by infallibility seems to have full support of Tradition. 

However, before we go on to ask if there are not within Tradition testimonies to the contrary it 
seems to us that one can and one should doubt that the thesis of infallibility in the disciplinary and 
liturgical decrees, has the amplitude which certain theologians judge they can attribute to it. 

Indeed, the studies carried out during the last hundred years have made it very clear that even in 
their direct and expressly doctrinal pronouncements for the universal Church, the Pope and the Council 
are not necessarily infallible. This affirmation is based on the fact that the Pope and the Council can use 
their magisterial authority in a greater or lesser degree, as they consider opportune in each specific case. 

Now, - one could ask - if even in the universal specifically doctrinal pronouncements the 
magisterium does not always use its infallibility, why should it do so, in pronouncements that only 
indirectly and implicitly involve doctrine? If, when they teach ex professo that which is connected with 
faith and morals, the Pope and the Council do not always wish to define infallibly, it is difficult to 
conceive that they always wish to do so when they teach in a merely indirect and implicit manner. 

Moreover, the study of the history of the liturgy - and this includes the Roman liturgy -raises 
serious doubts as to the necessarily infallible character of the decisions of the Church in relation to her 

(1) Apud M. Pinto , O Valor Theol. Da Lit., p. 240. 

(2) Wernz-Vidal , lus Canonicum, tom II, p. 410: see also tom. I, p. 278. 

(3) Pius XII , Encyclical Mediator Dei, A. A. S. 1947, p. 524. 


official worship. For example, it is not easy to explain, in view of the natural sense of the words, certain 
texts referring to the Assumption, to the matter of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, to prayer for the dead, 
and the “consecration of wine by contact” (1). 

It does however, seem legitimate to ask if with teachings which are implicitly doctrinal, there 
may not have come about with the explicitly doctrinal teachings. In connection to these last, one 
frequently finds in ancient authors - and even recent ones - the affirmation with no distinctions, made in 
general only in passing, that they always involve infallibility, as long as they are directed to the 
universal Church. However, we also find in the practice of the Church and in the authors of all 
centuries, testimonies to the contrary, that is, which introduce into the thesis important nuances and 
limitations. It was on the basis of these last documents, that it was possible, without breaking with 
Tradition, to show that in fact the direct doctrinal teachings of the universal Magisterium only involve 
infallibility to the degree in which there is the intention of involving it. 

Could not something similar have happened with the thesis of the infallibility of the Church in 
matters of discipline, of liturgy, etc.? to answer this question, it is necessary to investigate Catholic 
Tradition; for it is never licit for a son of the Church to reason contrary to the former in matters revealed 
or necessarily connected with Revelation. 

Now, once we have examined Tradition, it is noted that, around the thesis of infallibility in the 
implicitly doctrinal teachings, there rests a certain ambiguity and imprecision. Even in authors who in 
one passage affirm it in an absolute manner, one finds in other places an unexpected restriction, or an 
equivocal term, or a sign of certain hesitation. 

This is what we desire to prove in the following. 

4. Hesistations and Restrictive Expressions in Testimonies of Tradition. 

In order to guide the reader in the examination of the texts which we are going to present, we would 
like to point out, straight away, that the principal hesitations and restrictive expressions, in relation to 
infallibility in the ecclesiastical laws, can be reduced to three points: 

1) Certain authors seem to restrict infallibility, in the subject which we are studying, to the laws 
which “impose”, “prescribe”, or “make obligatory” a certain act (2). When we read these theologians, 
we would say that infallibility is not involved in those laws which only recommend, insinuate or 
positively permit the practice of a certain act (3). 

(1) These points - some of which are highly delicate - are taken up further on: the Assumption, pp. 123, 135, 
139; the matter of sacred Orders, p. 126; prayer for the dead, pp. 125-126, “consecration by contact”, pp. 126- 

(2) That is what we shall see further on in the texts of Canon , Pesch , Hurter , Lercher , Herve , Cartechini and 

(3) See the observations which we make in respect to this on p. 113, commenting on the passage from 
Dublanchy . 


2) In other texts, the infallibility in the ecclesiastical laws seems to be reduced to that which 
constitutes “serious matter”, “mortal sin”, or which could bring “grave detriment” to the universal 
Church” (1). This being the case, one is brought to ask if universal laws relative to light matters are 
excluded from the field of infallibility. 

3) Other theologians declare that infallibility is only involved in universal laws in which the 
Pope pronounces “solemnly”, “in a definitive manner”, or “with his supreme authority”, or when the 
legal disposition becomes “ratified and fixed” (2). Such expressions seem to signify that infallibility is 
only involved in a law when, in one way or another, for intrinsic or extrinsic reasons, the Pope or the 
Church express their intention of teaching infallibly the doctrinal truth which the given legal disposition 

* * * 

As we shall see (3), these hesitations and restrictive expressions are explained by the fact that 
only in recent times are the conditions under which the Church or the Pope are infallible in disciplinary 
decrees being formulated satisfactorily. 

This being settled, let us now examine the texts - all of which come after the XVI Century, since 
the first theologian who enunciated explicitly and “ex professo” the thesis of infallibility in ecclesiastical 
laws was Melchior Cano (4). 

a. Melchior Cano wrote: 

“the Church, in making laws for the whole people IN GRAVE MATTERS and those 

which INFLUENCE NOTABLY in the formation of Christian customs, can ORDAIN nothing contrary 

either to the Gospel, or to natural law” (5). 

b. Suarez, pointing out one of the reasons, by which papal infallibility is involved in the approval of the 
rules of religious order, observed: 

“the Pontiff cannot err, in matters of morals, WITH GRAVE DAMAGE to the universal Church; now, 
the error referred to, would be of this type” (6). 

And, in the same order of ideas, he wrote, a little further on: 

“by the very fact of a religious order having been approved, it is declared that to profess this state of life 
is to embrace the evangelical counsels; therefore, the contrary error would be VERY PERNICIOUS IN 
THE CHURCH; therefore, even in this subject, there is no lack of assistance of the Holy Spirit, so that 

(1) See the citations from Cano , Suarez , Cart echini , and Iraqui . 

(2) See the texts of D. Gueranqer , Bouix , Pius IX , Pesch , Lercher , Herve and Goupil to this effect. 

(3) On pp. 124 ff. 

(4) “Cano (+1560) is the first to express this principle, implicitly admitted by the theologians of the Middle Ages 
and by the Fathers” ( Dublanchy , article “Eglise”, in the Diet, de Theol. Cath., col. 2185). 

(5) Cano , De Locis..., lib. V. cap. 5, concl. 2, p. 124. - The capitals are ours. 

(6) Suarez , De Retigione, lib. II, cap. XVII, n. 18, p. 212. - The capitals are ours. 


error not be introduced into the Church” (1). 

c. The Spanish Jesuit, Father Gabriel Vasquez (+1604), resolving a difficulty about the possibility of 
error in the Roman liturgy, expressed the following opinion: 

“Furthermore, somebody may answer that, in that which has to do with the essence and substance of the 
sacraments, the Church always approves, by words and acts, a doctrine which is certain and not subject 
to doubts; but, in that which deals with other things, which are accidental , she sometimes does 
something following in practice an opinion which is not entirely certain, but probable, in as much as it 
has not been declared to be a certain dogma of the Faith” (2). 

d. Father Francisco Antonio Zaccaria, a Jesuit of the XVIII Century (3), may be considered “the first 
composer of a treatise, although partial, on the theological value of the Liturgy” (4). In his work “De 
Usu Librorum Liturgicorum in Rebus Theologicis”, after defending the theological authority of the 
aforementioned books, he established principles like those which follow: 

“That which appears in the liturgy should be taken in its true and proper sense, UNLESS THERE IS 

“If a text in the liturgical books seems to be obscure, or seems to contain a DOCTRINE WHICH IS 
NOT CAREFULLY EXPRESSED, then it must be explained in the light of other passages in the same 
book” (6). 

e. Dom Gueranger, studying the various senses which Tradition may have, wrote: 

“The second state of Tradition is that in which it is professed by the Church, in the formulae which she 
uses, as the Church; in the usages and customs which she FOLLOWS OR IMPOSES WITH 
AUTHORITY, either as an EXPRESSION OF HER BELIEF, or as a RULE OF MORALS. Tradition , 
in this second state, is guaranteed by the authority of God, who could not permit that the Church 
indirectly teach error” (7). 

f. The French canonist D. Bouix (+1870) ardently defended the thesis that, when the liturgy clearly 
enunciates a doctrine, it cannot err. Even in this thesis, one notes a certain limitation of the principle of 
infallibility, in liturgical matters, for the field remains open for expressions that, in an unclear manner, 
insinuate error, favour heresy, etc. 

(1 ) Suarez , op. cit., ibidem, n. 21 , p. 21 3. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Vasquez , De Eucharistia , disp. 227 , cap. 3, nn. 21-22, p. 451. 

(3) Zaccaria (+1795) was a great defender of the Papacy against the attacks of the Jansenists. About him, we 
read in the Dictionnaire de Theotogie Catholique : 

“Saint Alphonse de Ligouri cites him with the greatest eulogies. At Saint Alphonse’s request, Zaccaria composed 
an Introductory Dissertation on the origins, the places and the importance of casuistic theology, which the holy 
Doctor inserted into his Moral Theology” ( J. P. Grausem , article “Zaccaria, F. A.”, col. 3644). 

(4) M. Pinto , O Valor..., p. 300. 

Before Zaccaria , many Popes, Fathers, Doctors and theologians frequently used liturgical arguments for the 
demonstration of theological thesis, but they never studied in a systematic manner, what is the exact measure in 
which infallibility is involved in the liturgical dispositions. As it is easy to perceive, this gap which is noted among 
the ancients is, in great part, at the root of the confusion which today still hangs over this important theme. 

(5) Zaccaria , op. cit., col. 286. - The capitals are ours. 

(6) Zaccaria , op. cit., col. 298. - The capitals are ours. 

(7) D. Gueranger , Nouvelle Defense..., II Partie, p. 7. - The capitals are ours. 


Bouix, however, was radical in his assertions. Trying to refute Vasquez, who accepted 
infallibility in that which is essential to the sacraments, but doubted it in that which deals with accidental 
matters (1), he argued: 

“I confess that with such a doctrine, if it were true, the dogmatic value of the liturgy would be entirely 
destroyed; (...) for, accepting this distinction referred to, I could not conclude from the liturgy the truth 
of any dogma, unless it were previously made clear to me that the dogma deals with something essential . 
This, however, could not be made clear to me by means of the liturgy itself, BUT ONY FROM SOME 
OTHER PLACE. Therefore, one could not arrive, using only the liturgy, to a conclusion about the truth 
of any doctrine which refers either to the essential , or to the accidental ” (2). 

Bouix considers that this consequence be contrary to the teachings of Saint Augustine and of 
Tradition in general. However, a little further on, he was obliged to recognize that the reasons taken 
“from some other place” can be necessary for the evaluation of the dogmatic sense of the liturgical text. 
In reality, when he explains how the Immaculate Conception could have been celebrated during several 
centuries - since before the time of Suarez (+1617) - throughout the whole Church, without however 
involving infallibility, Bouix indicated the special meaning which he attributed to the term “clear”: 

“In order that the fact referred refute the doctrine which we defend about the dogmatic value of the 
liturgy, it would be necessary that the dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been clearly expressed 
by the liturgy at the time of Suarez; now, the liturgy of that time did not yet express this dogma clearly : 
it is true that the Holy See had conceded an office and the Feast of the above mentioned privilege of the 
Mother of God, but at the same time declared that by that concession it did not approve the opinion 
favoring the privilege, except as being the most probable: “The very Pontiff - says Suarez - who 
approved that feast, declared that he only approved that opinion as being pious and more probable”. 
And although the words of the office then conceded indicated, more or less, the preservation of Our 
Lady from all stain of original sin, however, THE DECLARATION ALLUDED TO HINDERED 
RESTRICTED BY SUCH A PUBLIC DECLARATION, that it was not permitted to use them in the 
liturgy, unless they really expressed that sentence as being pious and most probable, not however 
entirely certain” (3). 

Therefore, Bouix found himself obliged to admit, that in the study of the theological value of the 
liturgy, one cannot abstract from 

(1 ) We cite this passage from Vasquez on p. 1 1 7. 

(2) Bouix , Tract, de lure Lit , p. 47. - The capitals are ours. 

(3) Bouix , op. cit., pp. 51-52. - The capitals are ours. 


elements which do not appear in the liturgical books. 

This being the case, it is necessary to see, in all its nuances and with all theological rigour, each 
of the terms of the following proposition enunciated by Bouix: 

“When the Church MANIFESTS, EXPRESSES AND PROFESSES that in which it BELIEVES, it 
cannot ERR either in great things, or in small things” (1). 

g. Pius IX, in the Bull “Ineffabilis Deus”, in which he defined the Immaculate Conception, wrote: 

“That which belongs to worship is absolutely and intimately related to the object of worship, and cannot 
become RATIFIED AND FIXED, if this object be doubtful or ambiguous; for this reason, the Roman 
Pontiffs, Our Predecessors, while they extended with all diligence the cult of the Immaculate 
Conception, also made the greatest efforts to explain and inculcate their object and doctrine” (2). 

Note, therefore, that even that which belongs to worship - and by the context it is clear that Pius 
IX is dealing with the universal worship cannot become ratified and fixed, that is, it is not infallibly 
proposed, as long as its object be dogmatically doubtful and ambiguous (3). 

h. Pesch, dealing with infallibility in disciplinary decrees, says that the Church cannot 

“ORDAIN for all the faithful, THROUGH ITS SUPREME AUTHORITY, something contrary to faith 
and morals” (4). 

i. Hurter: 

“The Church cannot approve a general and OBLIGATORY discipline for all, which is contrary to faith 
or morals, or which redounds in grave damage to religion” (5). 

j Lercher, already on expounding the general thesis (6) about the secondary object of infallibility, 

“The PEREMPTORY judgement of the Church in matters which are connected this way with faith (and 
the DEFINITIVE condemnation of the opposite error) is infallible” (7). 

A little further on, while dealing specifically with disciplinary decrees, Lercher adds: 

(1) Bouix , op. cit., p. 48. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) “Quoniam vero quae ad cultum pertient, intimo plane vinculo cum eiusdem objecto conserta sunt, neque rate 
et fixa manere possunt, si illud anceps sit et in ambiguo verstur, id circo Decessores Nostri Romani Pontifices 
omni cura Conceptionis cultum amplificantes, illius etiam objectum ac doctrinam declarare et inculcare, 
impensissime studuerunt” - Pius IX , in Doctrine Pontificia , vol. IV, p. 175. - The capitals in the English translation 
are ours. 

(3) On p. 1 33 we cite the commentary which Father Manuel Pinto , S. J. makes on this passage from Pius IX. 

(4) Pesch , Praelectiones..., tom. I, p. 328. - The capitals are ours. 

(5) Hurter , Theol. Dogm. Comp., I, p. 271 . - The capitals are ours. 

(6) Seep. 107. 

(7) Lercher , Inst. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 300 - The capitals are ours. 


“We refer to the decrees whereby is PRESCRIBED, for the universal Church, BY HER SUPREME 
POWER, a certain norm of life through a law which is in itself stable” (1). 

And then, immediately after, we read that the Church would not attain its end, 

“If it could, BY ITS OWN SUPREME POWER, OBLIGE all the faithful to a norm of life which were 
not in agreement with true faith and with good morals” (2). 

k. Herve observes that the Church 

“would cease to be holy ”, and therefore “would cease to be the true Church of Christ”, if “it 
COMMANDED all the faithful, BY MEANS OF ITS SUPREME AUTHORITY, something contrary to 
faith and morals” (3). 

l. Father Goupil, S. J., in his well known course of theology in French, teaches: 

“it is certain that the Church cannot fall into error when it SOLEMNLY approves a devotion, 
a feast and a doctrine implicit in this feast” (4). 

Commenting next on the axiom “the rule of prayer is the rule of faith”, he writes: 

“This does not mean that everything in the liturgy is infallible truth. One could say in general that this 
axiom APPLIES MORE TO DOCTRINE than to the facts. Very often the historical fact will be rather 
the occasion than the direct object of worship; that is what the formulae indicate: “it is said that”, “it is 
reported that”, etc. It is equally necessary to distinguish between the feasts of the universal Church and 
those which are only local, as also AMONG THE SEVERAL PARTS OF THE LITURGY. Thus, in the 
Mass, the Canon is certainly free from error (5); the text of the Masses has more authority than that of 
the Breviary; the historical information of the Breviary and the Martyrology is less certain. It is as 
necessary to distinguish theologically what is taught in an infallible way or not, as it would be incorrect, 
on the other hand, to think that where the Church has not brought her infallibility into play, one is free to 
doubt her teachings or even reject them; this would not be heresy, but rather rashness and lack of 
respect. Therefore, although DISTINGUISHING THE DIVERS DECREES OF CERTAINY, one will 
accept filially the pious customs and the traditions which the Church approves, and one will have, at the 
same time, the disposition to correct any errors which may be found there” (6). 

(1) Lercher , op. cit. , p. 304. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Lercher , op. cit., p. 304. - The capitals are ours 

(3) Herve , Man. Theot. Dogm., vol. I. p. 508 - The capitals are ours. 

(4) Goupil , L’Eglise, p. 1 12. - The capitals are ours. 

(5) The author refers to the traditional Roman Canon which the Council of Trent defined to be free from any error. 

(6) Goupil , L’Eglise, p. 1 12. - The capitals are ours. 


m. Father Cartechini, justifying the principle of infallibility in the disciplinary decrees, writes: 

“if the Church were to include in her laws MORTAL SIN, SHE WOULD oblige men to lose eternal 
life” (1). 

To restrict the argument only to mortal sins, causes a certain perplexity, the more so because then 
the author goes on to establish an absolute principle: 

“in the Code of Canon Law there can be nothing which is opposed IN ANY WAY whatsoever to the 
laws of faith and to the holiness of the Gospel” (2). 

A few lines further on, however, we find another restrictive expression: 

“in the Code , in as much as the Church TEACHES some practical and speculative truths, as being 
contained in the deposit of Revelation, and in as much as she explains and proposes them IN AN 
OBLIGATORY WAY, it cannot be denied that some dogmas are clearly expressed” (3). 

n. Iragui, arguing in favour of infallibility in the disciplinary laws, observes: 

“if the Church, in her decrees which are universally OBLIGATORY should IMPOSE a false doctrine, 
by this fact the true faith and customs would be GRAVELY damaged, people would be led away from 
salvation, and her very condition as the true Church would be endangered” (4). 

o. Liturgical Feasts - Finishing the item which deals with the hesitations and limitations which we find 
in traditional doctrines about infallibility in ecclesiastical laws, it is necessary to present some 
considerations about the liturgical cult of Our Lady, the Saints and the Blessed. 

As is admitted by all, the simple inclusion of a name in the Roman Martyrology, without a 
formal declaration by the Pope, that the person is a Saint, does not involve infallibility. In ancient times 
many names were thus included in the Martyrology and they are still there today. Now, the Roman 
Martyrology is a liturgical book and one of morally universal use. 

This being the case - one may ask - how do we know that infallibility is not involved in the 
simple inclusion of a name in the Martyrology? 

(1) Cartechini , Dall’Opinione..., p. 48. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Cartechini , op. cit., p. 48. - The capitals are ours. 

(3) Cartechini , op. cit., p. 48. - The capitals are ours. 

(4) Iraqui , Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 453. - The capitals are ours. 


The matter is certainly connected with Revelation, because it refers to the Canonization of 


The solution of the difficulty is in the fact that the theologians explicitly affirm that the Church 
has not the intention of declaring Saints those whose names are only included in the Martyrology (1). 
Therefore - the following conclusion is imposed - that here is one more limitation, in traditional 
theology, of infallibility in liturgical matter. 

Another important limitation is found in the doctrine related to beatifications. In these latter, as is 
generally recognized (2), infallibility is not involved. For this same reason, veneration of a person who 
is beatified is not in principle extended to the whole Church. However, at least in thesis it is admitted 
that a person who is beatified may receive universal veneration, without this meaning that the 
infallibility of the Church guarantees his sanctity. This is what Benedict XIV, for example, affirms 
when he cites and agrees with the following text of Dominique de la Sainte Trinite (+1687): 

“a feast may be celebrated by the Church in two ways: in a first way, accompanied in an absolute 
manner by the position judgement or the universal assent of the Church about the sanctity of the person 
whose feast is celebrated; in a second way, by mere concession or permission, without such judgement 
or assent. When the feast is celebrated in the first manner, as is the case in Canonization, then one can 
deduce with perfect assurance the sanctity of somebody (...). This, however, does not occur, if the feast 
is celebrated only in the second manner, for from this it follows merely that such a celebration is not 
censurable (...). This happens in Beatification, in which there is not a definitive judgement of the 
Church but only permission, which IS NOT ALWAYS FOR THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH (...). AND 
EVEN IF THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH CELEBRATES the feast of a person who is beatified, IF 
CONCEPTION, from this solemnity, accompanied by such a declaration one cannot deduce with 
absolute certainty the sanctity of the person whose feast is being celebrated” (3). 

This doctrine will be better understood if one keeps in mind that the fact that infallibility is 
involved in the Canonization of a saint, is not deduced from his liturgical worship having been imposed 
on the universal Church - an imposition which is not always made - but from the intention that the Pope 
has in declaring in a solemn and definitive manner, that the Saint is in eternal glory and constitutes a 
model of virtue for all the faithful. This is how Benedict XIV explains the fact: 

(1) See: Benedict XIV . Dei Beatif., lib. I, cap. 43, n. 14, p. 147; Pesch , Praelectiones..., tom. I, p. 332; Herve , 
Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 507. 

(2) See: Van Noort , Tract. De Eccl. Christi, p. 107; Goupil , L’Eglise, p. 112; D'Herbiqny , Theol. de Eccl., tom. II. 
p. 109. 

(3) Dominique de la Sainte-Trinite , Tractatus... - apud Benedict XIV , De Serv. Dei Beat., p. 143. - The capitals 

are ours. 


“the ultimate difference between Beatification and Canonization must by no means be based either on 
the permission for his veneration, or on its limitation to particular persons and places - which is different 
in Beatification than in Canonization - but rather on the ultimate and definitive pronouncement on the 
sanctity, that pronouncement which ordains by Canonization the veneration due in the universal Church 
to some Saints, while it absolutely does not ordain it by means of Beatification” (1). 

In the same order of ideas, Pesch observes that the universal obligation to venerate a Saint, is not 
necessarily concerned with his liturgical cult, but signifies that 

“all the faithful are obliged to consider him, as undoubtedly a saint, that is, worthy, as such, of public 
veneration” (2). 

In the text of Dominique de la Sainte-Trinite cited above, there is a most enlightening reference 
to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We must say a word about this matter. In 1708 Clement XI 
extended this solemnity to the whole Church. Would this act involve the infallibility of the Church in 
relation to that sublime prerogative of Our Lady? No, because, as Benedict XIV observed after 
indicating various Constitutions in which the Popes praised the Immaculate Conception, 

“in as much as up to the present time there has appeared no definition of the Church about the 
Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, and the Roman Pontiffs themselves, in the above mentioned 
constitutions, declared that by the concessions which were made they by no means desired to decide the 
question. Theolphilus Raynaud himself, and with him, Natal (Alexandre), (...) deduce that the cult, the 
feast and everything else which had been approved in honour of the Virgin as having been preserved 
from Original Sin in her Conception, absolutely do not result in that preservation (from Original Sin) 
being held as certain, as a matter of Faith” (3). 

Based on the absence, in those times, of a dogmatic definition of the Assumption, Benedict XIV 
shows that neither might one deduce from the liturgical feast, that the elevation of Our Lady, body and 
soul to heaven is a truth of faith; and he emphasizes that that was the common opinion of the theologians 


In the same order of ideas, the following commentary made by X. le Bachelet in connection with 
the Bull which extended the Feast of the Immaculate Conception to the whole Church is also significant: 

“Therefore, the Supreme Pontiff extended, in an imperative manner, the Feast of the Immaculate 
Conception to the Whole Church. 

(1) Benedict XIV , De Serv. Dei Beatif., lib. I, cap. 39, n. 14, p. 124. 

(2) Pesch , Praelectiones . . . , tom. I, p. 331 . 

(3) Benedict XIV , De Serv. Dei Beat., lib. I, cap. 42, n. 14, p. 143. 

(4) Benedict XIV , op. cit. , lib. I, cap. 42, n. 15, p. 143. 


And thence arises the importance of his act; for, according to the commonly accepted principles, the 
extension of a feast to the whole Church (...) involved the certainty of its object: Not a certainty of 
divine faith but A CERTAINTY OF THE MORAL ORDER” (1). 

* * 

In view of the documents of Tradition which we have just presented, it becomes clear that it is 
not possible, without further consideration, to affirm that the disciplinary and liturgical decrees 
promulgated for the universal Church are always guaranteed by infallibility. But it is necessary to study 
the Conditions which would bring them such a guarantee if fulfilled. Only thus could one come to a 
conclusion having the due distinctions, which would fully correspond to the teaching of the Church 
about this important matter. 

In the following item we shall try to investigate the conditions of infallibility in ecclesiastical 
laws, taking as our basis the deeper studies which in these matters, have been made recently. 

5. Conditions under Which Liturgical Laws Involve Infallibility 

During the last decades, aiming above all to combat modernism and neo-modemism, numerous 
traditional theologians have been paying special attention to the problem of the infallibility of the Pontiff 
and of the Church. Besides this, the doctrinal authority of the liturgy has been the object of profound 
studies, which aimed at giving new precision to the traditional principles in this matter. Thus, certain 
truths which the ancient authors accepted only in an implicit and obscure manner, are being explained 
and justified more and more. As we shall see in the following pages, these recent studies show that the 
liturgical texts, as well as those which are directly doctrinal, only involve infallibility when they fulfill 
certain well-defined and precise conditions. 

As we have already indicated, taking this topic as a starting-point, we shall base our argument 
exclusively upon liturgical grounds (2), so as not to find ourselves obliged to extend our considerations 
farther than necessary. 

a. C. Callewaert 

In his treatise “De Sacra Liturgia Universim”, the illustrious Belgian liturgist C. Callewaert 
(+1943) writes: 

“The argument taken from the liturgy proves with full certainty the truth of a doctrine of the faith, IF BY 
THIS MEANS - as is demanded of any argument within the dogmatic tradition - IT IS SEEN THAT 

(1) X. Le Bachelet , article “Immaculee Conception”, in the Diet, de Theol. Cath., col. 1186. - The capitals are 

(2) See p. 109. 


ACCEPTED OR PROFESSED such a doctrine as belonging WITH CERTAINTY to the DEPOSIT OF 
FAITH. For it is impossible that the whole Church err in this matter. 

Such a condition can be fulfilled - and this is not rare - more easily in the liturgical documents than in 
the writing of the Holy Fathers (...). Finally, BY THE MANNER AND THE FREQUENCY OF THE 
TESTEMONY, BY THE NATURE OF THE RITE in which it is expressed, and BY THE 
IMPORTANCE OF THE DOCTRINE ITSELF, it may be made manifest, in a way which leaves no 
room for doubt, that the Church professes such a doctrine as belonging to the deposit of faith. And thus, 
by the way in which the Church commands us to pray, it can SOMETIMES be deduced with full 
certainty what ought to be believed” (1). 

b. Father P. Oppenheim, O.S.B. 

In his highly esteemed manual of liturgy, Father Philippus Oppenheim, O.S.B., dedicates a 
special volume to the “principles of liturgical theology” (2). 

We are here giving special attention to this work because, as Father Manuel Pinto, S. J., rightly 
observes (3), it constitutes a compilation of what the most ancient authors wrote about the Roman rite. 

“In the Church - he wrote - the persuasion that there is an intimated relationship between liturgy and 
faith, and even that the law which orders public worship establishes the law of faith, is most ancient and 
most firm. This affirmation is well-known to many; few however, really know the genuine and original 
meaning of this axiom, on what grounds it is based, and if, as far as divine worship is concerned, it can 
be accepted really and as fully lawful, in a general manner and without any exception or limit, or 
whether, on the other hand, it ought to be restricted to certain cases and to certain conditions” (5). 

* * * 

In order to establish the exact outlines of the doctrine of infallibility in liturgical material, the 
author cites and analyzes several texts of the Roman liturgy which contain or insinuate errors. Here are 
some examples: 

1) in the Offertory of the Mass for the dead, and in the liturgy 

(1) Callewaert , De Sacra Lit. Univers., p. 44. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Volume VII (1 947) of the Institutiones Systematico - Historicae in Sacram Liturgian , Marietti, Taurini. 

(3) In O Valor Theologico de Liturgia, p. 7. - We analyze this book on pp. 1 29 ff. 

(4) Oppenheim , op. cit., p. 8. 

(5) Oppenheim , op. cit., p. 77. 


for the day of death (the prayer “Deus ci proprium est”), prayers are found which express eschatological dogmas 
in a less perfect manner (1), seeming to insinuate that the Church pray that the damned should be taken our of 
hell, or that those who died in a state of mortal sin should not be cast into hell (2). 

2) In the Roman Pontifical there was a rubric which gave the following recommendation to the 

Bishop administrating the sacrament of Orders: “instruct the ordinandi to touch the instruments, in whose 

bestowal the character is impressed”. A native consideration of this rubric, in the light of the principle of the 
infallibility of the Church in liturgical material, could lead one to think that in it is indirectly defined the following 
dogma: the character is impressed in the bestowal of the instruments on the ordenandi. However, even at the time 
when Oppenheim wrote his book, it was generally recognized that the matter of the sacrament of Orders is the 
imposition of the hands and not the bestowal of the instruments. At that time, the Holy See itself, through a 
Roman Congregation (3), had already made a pronouncement to this effect. Later, Pius XII defined this truth (4), 
and the Sacred Congregation of Rites had the above mentioned rubric removed from the Pontifical (5). 

3) On the celebrated subject of “consecration by contact”, Oppenheim writes: 

“According to a rubric contained in Roman Pontificals of the XIII Century, unconsecrated wine is 
transubstantiated into the Blood of Christ on contact with the consecrated Host; from this Rubric, for the same 
reason mentioned above (the matter of Order), a dogmatically certain conclusion may not be deduced. The case 
here in question is the rite of communion for the sick, according to which the consecrated Host is dipped into the 
wine, and then given to the sick person. Now, whoever receives Communion under this rite, really and truly 
receives Christ, although only under the species of Bread, and does not lose any grave necessary for salvation (6). 
The case would be different if it affected the true reception of the Sacrament” (7). 

* * * 

Oppenheim is quite right in observing that infallibility is fully involved in liturgical dispositions which 
affect the very validity of the sacraments. Thus, it is known that Extreme Unction is validly administered if given 
with a single anointing on the forehead, for the Code of Canon Law permits that the Priest proceed in this manner 
if necessary (8). It is known that the physical and simultaneous presence on the altar on the two consecrated 
species, is not necessary for the validity of the sacrifice of the Mass, for under extraordinary circumstances this 
presence is not required (9). Yet further examples of the same principle are given by Oppenheim (10). 

(1) Oppenheim . op. cit.. p. 117. 

(2) On the interpretations traditionally given to these prayers, one may see Pesch . Praelectiones..., tom. IX, pp. 300-301 . 

(3) See Oppenheim . op. cit.. p. 121. 

(4) Apostolic Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis, A. A. S., 1948, p. 6. 

(5) A. A. S„ 1950, p. 449. 

The explanation given by Oppenheim (op. cit., p. 121), to the fact that the aforementioned rubric appears in the Pontifical does not 
appear to us to be satisfactory. According to him, even under the supposition that the bestowal of the instruments were not the matter or 
Orders, the Church would not have erred “in respect to something which touches the faith interiorly”, since, as the rite included also the 
imposition of hands, the sacrament did not become invalid. - Now, we would say, in this hypothesis without doubt the sacrament did not 
become invalid, for, in addition to the bestowal of instruments, the Bishop also made the imposition of hands: but would not such a rubric 
establish a “false principle in a question of dogmatic theology (namely, what is the matter of a sacrament), as Oppenheim himself appears to 
concede a little before? 

The true explanation for the fact, as we shall see further on (pp. 129 ff.), is given to us by authors after Oppenheim . as Father Manual 
Pinto. S. J .. They show that a liturgical law only involves infallibility when, considered in its context and in its circumstances, it becomes patent 
that it contains an irreformable definition, that is, that the Church wished to use this means to teach a doctrine infallibly. We shall study this 
matter further on, on pp. 131 ff., 137 ff. - In respect to the matter of Orders, until the time of Pius XII the Church always considered this 
question to be open. The approved theologians in the Church always disputed freely in this respect, dividing themselves into various schools. 
This fact is enough to make it clear that the FHoly See did not have the intention of making an irreformable definition when it introduced the 
rubric indicated above into the Roman Pontifical. 

It is appropriate to note furthermore that the difficulty created by this rubric cannot be resolved with the argument that according to some, 
before the Constitution Sacramentum Ordinis , the matter of Orders was the bestowal of the instruments. Really such a thesis was not 
condemned by Pius XII and can be defended, although few today consider it probable: but in no way did it constitute a dogma of faith , as he 
would have to admit who refused to see the thesis of infallibility in liturgical laws with its due nuances. 

(6) In a footnote, Oppenheim indicates the Tridentine definition of the full value of Communion under one species: Section XXI, chap. 3. 

(7) Oppenheim . op. cit.. pp. 121-122. Plere also the argumentation of Oppenheim appears incomplete to us. Fie explains appropriately that 
the Church did not deprive the infirm person of the graces which she promised to give him. But he does not explain how the Church could 
permit that the faithful be induced to material idolatry: adoring wine which had not been consecrated. - Another complementary explanation 
becomes necessary: the principle of “consecration by contact” was not taught as a truth of faith, although it appeared in a liturgical text. 

A more detailed analysis of the present question does not fit in this place. On the historical aspect of the “consecration by contact”, one 
may see M. Andrieu . Immixtio et Consecratio, Picard, Paris, 1924. 

(8) Canon 947. - See Oppenheim . op. cit., pp. 119-120. 

(9) De Defectibus, IV, 4 et 5. - See Oppenheim . op. cit., p. 119. 

(10) Op. cit., pp. 119-122. 


* * * 

Among the conclusions reached by the author concerning this topic in his study we would point 
out those that have to do with the distinctions one must have in mind on accepting the thesis of the 
infallibility of the Church in the approval of liturgical texts. 

Among the conditions which are necessary for the liturgical text to be used as a certain argument 
in favor of a dogmatic thesis, Oppenheim lists the following: that the text enunciate in an univocal 
manner a certain truth (1). The reason for the existence of this condition appears evident, for nothing 
can be deduced with certainty from a vague or ambiguous phrase. This condition, formulated by 
Oppenheim becomes, however, more precise and richer when we read what he added upon this subject: 

“This univocation may result from either a declaration of the Church, according to which a given text 
must be explained in a certain way, or because of the exposition of theologians in mutual accord” (2). 

As one sees, to prove this “univocation”, internal criteria are not sufficient, such as grammatical 
and semantic analysis of the text and context; but it is also necessary to appeal to external criteria, such 
as, for example, an explicit declaration of the Magisterium concerning the significance of the liturgical 
text in question, or a morally unanimous interpretation of the theologians. - So we are getting close to 
the principle that the mere fact of appearing in all the liturgies, or only in the Roman Liturgy does not 
guarantee a text by the infallibility of the Church, but such a prerogative can only be attributed to it on 
the basis of the declarations of the Magisterium, or the teaching of the theologians etc. There is no 
doubt that Oppenheim did not get to point of enunciating this principle in a complete manner. However, 
studies about this important question exist in his writings in a considerably advanced stage. 

Besides “univocation”, Oppenheim lists two more conditions under which a liturgical text may 
be used as a certain argument in favour of a thesis in dogmatic theology: the text should have an internal 
and necessary relationship with faith (3), and should have been accepted by all Catholic liturgies or by 
the Roman Liturgy (4). When these three conditions are fulfilled at the same time, the liturgical text 
expresses a “ certain” truth, but not necessarily - and let this be clear - a dogma or a teaching guaranteed 
by the infallibility of the Church (5). 

Indeed, in theology “certain” is an adjective applied not only to that which is proposed under the 
guarantee of infallibility, but to any teaching against which there are no serious doubts to be raised. 
Thus, as Oppenheim explains, there may be several degrees of certainty, from that which is opposed to 
simple temerity, to that which, based upon a solemn declaration of the Magisterium, is opposed to 

(1) Op. cit., p. 116. 

(2) Oppenheim , op. cit., p. 116. 

(3) Oppenheim , op. cit., pp. 1 14-1 15. - The author alludes here to the fact that the miracles of the Saints, private 
revelations, etc., are not guaranteed by infallibility, even when accepted by the universal or Roman liturgy. See in 
this respect what we wrote on p. 109. 

(4) Oppenheim , op. cit., pp. 1 1 5-1 1 6. - See what we write in respect to this on p. 1 09. 

(5) Oppenheim , op. cit., pp. 116-117. 


How does one determine the degree of certainty in a truth implicitly taught in a liturgical text? 
According to Oppenheim, such a determination should be based upon external and internal reasons (1). 

The external reasons are, for example, declarations made by the Church concerning the 
theological value of the text (as when the Council of Trent defined infallibly that there is no error in the 
Roman Canon), and the frequency in which a text appears throughout the liturgical cycle. 

The internal reasons refer to the greater or lesser degree of relationship between the text and 
faith. For example, that which is connected with the validity of the sacraments, enjoys, for this reason, 
great theological value. 

Furthermore, the author observes that, in liturgical material, 

“when the Church manifests, expresses and professes what it believes, it can err neither in great matters 
nor small matters” (2). 

Note that the terms “manifests, expresses and professes”, do not indicate any teaching 
whatsoever, but only that which has special clarity and solemnity (3). And let it be noted also that the 
expression “what it believes” does not apply to each and every truth which the Church teaches, but only 
to those which are proposed as being things which must be believed . 

* * * 

On the other hand, in the establishment of the infallibility of a teaching of the ordinary and 
universal Magisterium, a very important role is played by the continuity with which this doctrine is 
taught by the Church. Oppenheim formulates an analogous doctrine about the liturgy, as can be seen 
from his declarations which follow, in which we have put in capital letters the words referring to 
continuity in a teaching: 

“The true Church of Christ cannot err, nor profess error in known, public and 
CONTINUOUS manner, nor propagate it” (4). 

The truth of numerous dogmas 

“may be legitimately and rigorously deduced from the mere fact of their being expressed, in a clear and 
PERMANENT manner, in the Roman liturgy” (5). 

Summing up, Oppenheim does not accept without making distinctions the principle of the 
infallibility of the Church in approving liturgical texts, but says that, in the liturgy, 

(1) Op. cit., p. 117. 

(2) Oppenheim , op. cit., p. 129. 

(3) Oppenheim , op. cit., ibidem. 

(4) Oppenheim , op. cit., p. 82. 

(5) Oppenheim , op. cit., p. 84. 


by the manner and by the frequency of the testimony, by the character of the rite in which it is 
expressed, and by the importance of the doctrine itself , without doubt it may be manifest that the Church 
professes such a doctrine AS BELONGING TO THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH. This being the case, then, 
SOMETIMES, from the manner in which the Church commands us to pray, one may deduce, with full 
certainty, what should be believed” (1). 

c. Father Manuel Pinto, S. J. 

In 1952, Father Manuel Pinto, S. J., published the book O ’Valor Teologico da Liturgia (“The 
Theological Value of the Liturgy”) (2), which reproduces his doctoral thesis prepared in Granada and in 
Rome, and defended in the Faculty of Theology of Granada in 1951 (3). 

The work is of great interest in relation to the subject we are dealing with, for it aims at studying 
the following problem: “Granted that the Liturgy is a theological source , what are the conditions of its 
value?” (4). Furthermore, the author observes that, although F. A. Zaccaria, S. J. (+1795), D. Bouix 
(+1870), Dom Gueranger (+1875), P. Oppenheim, O.S.B., (5), and others had already taken up the 
question of the theological value of the liturgy, no systematic work had been written up to that time with 
the double objective of verifying in the sources that which is known about the matter, and deducing from 
that, what is unknown (6). 

“We recognize (...) in Oppenheim - writes Father Pinto - the most necessary and complete compilation 
of the present scientific state of the question, beyond which we shall try to extend our work of 
investigation. We cannot presume that our work will be the last word to be said about expressing the 
problem in its whole context, about its scientific investigation and the method used therein, about the 
complex theory and to what conclusions this may lead. It is only an essay about the subject thus 
conceived, and within these lines it would be, we can say, the first one to be published” (7). 

The value of Father Pinto’s study is heightened by the fact of having been carried out under the direction 
of theologians of high repute (8), and by the acceptance which it received in specialized circles (9). 

As may be seen from Father Pinto’s text, which we quoted just above, his thesis is not presented 
as an exhaustive and final monograph on the theme. In another passage, the author better explains to us 
the limits of his work: 

“We wish to try to determine the theological value of the liturgy. It is not a study of the various 
liturgies, in concrete, 

(1) Oppenheim . ep. cit. , p. 1 14. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Livraria Cruz, Braga. 369 pp. 

(3) See op. cit., pp. Vli and VIII. 

(4) Father Pinto , op. cit., p. 3. 

In determining the objective of his work, the author also presents the following suggestive formulation: “to find out how the liturgy is for the 
theologian a theological place and with what value or theological note one can qualify that which is contained therein” (p. 9). 

(5) See pp. ff. 

(6) See M. Pinto , op. cit., pp. 5 and 7. 

(7) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 307. 

(8) Father Pinto relates that the thesis was suggested to him by Father Jose Antonio de Aldama, S. J . (p.VII); that he was given orientation 
by Father Miguel Nicolau, S. J ., who renounced the idea of publishing a work on the same theme, putting at Father Pinto’s disposition the 
elements which he had already gathered in respect to the same theme (pp. VII-IX); and that he also had the help of Father J. Filograssi, S. J. 

(9) See, for example: Veloso . in “Broteria”, 1953, p. 240; La Civilta Cattolica , October 3, 1953, p. 581: Revista Ecclesiastica Brasileira , 1953, 
pp. 812-813; Granero . in Razon y Fe , 1954, p. 284; Renwart . in Nouvelle Revue Theologique, 1955, p. 421 ; Vagaggini . El Sentido..., p. 475; 
Garrido . Curso de Lit., pp. 64, 70. 

From the fact that we here give great attention to the work of Father Pinto , one must not deduce that we are altogether in accord with him. 
There are points, and some of them grave ones, in which we would not subscribe to his assertions. Such is the case in the evaluation which 
he makes of the Constitution “Auctorem Fidei”, by which Pius VI condemned the Jansenist Synod of Pistoia: we judge that Father Pinto 
reduces the importance of the constitution on saying that “the propositions (of Pistoia) of a liturgical character are rejected generally in as 
much as they are contrary to the customs accepted in the Church, or introduced by Ecclesiastical Authority” (op. cit., p. 232). - Our points of 
divergence with Father Pinto are, however, collateral to the central thesis developed by him, to which we would subscribe entirely. 


to extract from the theological content, which we want to attempt. That work would be endless. We 
only wish to try to indicate to the theologian and to determine for him the condition under which he can 
evaluate the testimony of the liturgy. The field is very broad. We only wish to clear the ground” (1). 

In order to attain this objective, Father Pinto studies initially certain questions of a general 
nature: the notion of the liturgy and the theological process (2). Then entering into his specific these, he 
tries to determine the theological value of the liturgy (3) with arguments drawn from Sacred Scripture 

(4), from the testimony of the universal Church (5), from the Councils (6), from Pontifical Documents 
(7), from the Holy Fathers (8), from the theologians (9) and from reason (10). After each items, the 
author draws partial conclusions to be recapitulated and completed in the final section, in which he 
expounds in a systematic way the result of his work (11). 

We have sketched the general lines of Father Pinto’s work in order to give the reader a 
panoramic view of the study. We shall not follow it step by step, but we shall only point out, next, some 
considerations and conclusions of the work, which seem to us to throw light on the problem which we 
are examining. 

* * * 

In the beginning of his work, Father Pinto observes that, granted the decisions of the 
Magisterium, the teachings of the Fathers of the Church and the theologians, and constructions of the 
theological reason, it is 

“a point which is settled and clear that there exists, in general, a relation between dogma and the liturgy. 
But there are at the same time difficulties connected with the determination of this relation” (12). 

Then, the author points out that the infallibility of the Church is not involved in the historical 
facts which are the basis of certain liturgical feasts, such as the presentation of Our Lady in the Temple 
and the translation of the Holy House of Loreto. And he adds: 

“There are objections, of another order, possibly more important than those. One for example: that in 
various ancient missals one finds a special Mass to alleviate the pains of hell. 

The aforementioned general and certain relation on the one hand, these and many other objections which 
raise doubts on the other, are what makes one desire a clear and ample determination of the relations 
between the liturgy and dogma ” (13). 

(1) M. Pinto , op. cit„ p.7. 

(2) Part I, pp. 11-78. 

(3) Part II, pp. 79-333. 

(4) Pp. 83-91 . 

(5) Pp. 93-160. 

(6) Pp. 161-197. 

(7) Pp. 199-244. 

(8) Pp. 245-276. 

(9) Pp. 277-310. 

(10) Pp. 311-333. 

(11) Pp. 335-351. 

(12) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 4. 

(13) Idem, ibidem. 


For the due application of the principle of the Indiculus (1), “lex orandi lex credendi ”, Father 
Pinto enunciates the following rules: 

“the law of faith which is based upon the law of prayer will have value: 

a. according to the competence or the origin of the person from whom the law proceed: Christ or the 
Church. If it proceeds from a divine origin , that which will have been expressed by the Liturgy, will 
always be true, because God is infallible in everything. If it comes from an ecclesiastical origin, the 
universal Liturgy will have objective value in matters which are of faith and morals or connected with 
them, for over these things the universal Magisterium of the Church has competence. IN THESE 

b. according to the sense intended by the Church and only within these limits, will the sensible object , 
act , formula , or liturgical feast have value as a law of faith. 

c. The theological qualification which one must give to such an affirmation of the Liturgy, will have to 
depend upon the nature of that which is affirmed, upon the manner in which it is expressed, and upon 
the intention of the Church in affirming it” (2). 

We call the attention of the reader particularly to the observation made in item “c” which we have 
just cited. For there Father Pinto enunciates that which we could call the golden rule for the theological 
qualification of the doctrines contained in the liturgy: these doctrines would have more or less authority, 
according to whether the Church had had the intention of involving her authority in greater or lesser 
degree; and such intention can be known by means of the examination of the liturgical text within the 
context of all the circumstances which surround it. 

Some of the examples given by Father Pinto himself will clarify this principle more: 

1. The doctrine of the efficacy of prayer is a dogma which can be demonstrated with exclusively 
liturgical arguments. For the numerous prayers imposed by the Church in all liturgical ceremonies, and 
during the course of the centuries, could not be in vain. It is evident, therefore, that the Church obliges 
one to believe in this truth, on prescribing the liturgical prayers (3). 

2. It is a dogma, also demonstrable with exclusively liturgical arguments, that the devil is 
expelled by the grace of Christ. Indeed, “the exorcisms and the exsufflations” upon the catechumens are 
done to signify the expulsion of the devil by the grace of Christ” (4). In conserving these rites in her 
ceremonies from the earliest times, and giving them a very precise significance, the Church is obliging 
us to believe in the truth which 

(1 ) On the Indiculus, see p. 110. 

(2) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 1 21 . - The capitals are ours. 

(3) See M. Pinto , op. cit., pp. 103 ft. 

(4) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 120. 


they express. 

3. The presentation of Our Lady in the Temple is not a dogma, for, although there is a liturgical 
feast with this title, it is however manifest that the Church does not have the intention of presenting this 
historical fact as a truth of faith (1). 

* * * 

In the conclusion of each topic of his study, Father Pinto insists once again on the nuances which 
form part of the thesis of infallibility in liturgical matters. Here are some significant texts: 

Terminating the study of “Liturgy in heresies, schisms and controversies”, the author writes 

“it is easy to see that not all the liturgical disciplinary laws have a dogmatic or even doctrinal intention 
or presupposition. We only have to admit this intention or that presupposition, when it is clear, by the 
very nature of the law, for example, that which commands us to adore the Consecrated Host before the 
consecration of the chalice (2), or by the circumstances: thus, by express declarations, one knows the 
conventional significance of the drop of water which is put into the chalice” (3). 

“From the circumstances”, we read further in the same chapter, “depends the doctrinal value of its 
elements (of the liturgy), and, therefore, the Theological Notes with which one has to qualify them” (4). 

* * * 

In relation to certain definitions of the Council of Trent, the author observes: 

“The value (...) of a liturgical institution or law of prayer depends upon the competency of the source 
from which it takes its origin. 

If the institution is divine, the authority of God guarantees its truth, in all its elements, for example, the 
original text of the Scripture. 

If the institution is ecclesiastical , (...) (it can be something approved definitively or not definitively by 
the Church. If it is) definitively approved , whether explicitly be decree, or implicitly by long use in the 
Church, then the institution rests upon a dogmatic foundation; it has for this reason secure doctrinal 
consequences in matters of faith and morals , since only this is the field of the direct authoritative 
doctrinal competency of the Church. This is the case of the Vulgate, of the Canon of the Mass and the 
complete text of the professions of faith. 

(1) See M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 120. 

(2) The author alludes to the fact that the genuflection made before the consecration of the wine proves that the 
transubstantiation of the bread is realized before and independently of that of the wine (see in this respect M. 
Pinto , op. cit., pp. 146 and 281). 

(3) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 158. 

(4) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 160. 


if it is not definitively approved, it does not have the same authoritative value, as is the case now, with 
the new translation of the Psalms” (1). 

In relation to the argument founded in an omission, Father Pinto writes: 

“there are in the liturgy elements which are not necessary but rather only convenient , for example, the 
Feast of Corpus Christi. From its existence one argues the truth which it presupposes; from its omission, 
however, one could not argue the negation of the doctrine which in fact it expresses. 

But when the Liturgy necessarily had to make a pronouncement, and did not, one may argue from the 
omission, for example: from the fact that in the formulae of the Mass, to whose essence the oblation 
pertains, it is never said that the former is offered to the Saints, one concludes that it is not offered to the 
Saints, but only, as it is clear from the liturgical text, in honour of the latter” (2). 

* * * 

Moreover, in relation to the Council of Trent: 

“The Greek Liturgy, from the time when the Orientals were Catholics, because of the length of time of 
its use in the Church, is a strong guarantee of doctrinal purity (...). In this lies one foundation of the 
authority of the Septuagint Version” (3). 

* * * 

Commenting on the passage, already cited by us (4), in which Pius IX declares that a liturgical 
disposition whose object is doubtful and ambiguous cannot be ratified and fixed . Father Pinto observes: 

“It is very important then, to know how to distinguish that in worship which can be called “ratified and 
fixed” or, in other words, the “ law of Prayer”, properly so called (lex ordi). There were passages in 
books of the very Roman Liturgy which, if they had not been already suppressed, would not agree with 
dogma which is more explicit today (5). Such passages could not have been called “ratified and fixed” 
with stability of “ law of prayer”. They corresponded in their time to opinions which were not yet 
condemned by the Church (6); while when such stability exists, it indicates the permanent mind of the 
infallible Church. But what is the criterion to discern then in the Liturgy, that which is stable? One can 
not always know this by means of the Liturgy alone, but it can 

(1) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 183. 

(2) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 186. 

(3) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 187. 

(4) On p. 119. 

(5) In a footnote, the author cites the cases of “consecration by contact” (to which we have already referred on p. 

the matter of the sacrament of Orders (we referred to it on p. 126), and also the following: 

“From the Roman Breviary there was suppressed a lesson unduly attributed to Saint Jerome, in which the 
corporal Assumption of Mary was questioned” (there follow bibliographical indications). 

(6) Although not condemned by the Church - we would add - these opinions were objectively erroneous. The 
examples adduced are very enlightening, for they show that in principle the possibility of having errors in the 
liturgical texts which are not “ratified and fixed” is not excluded. 


also be known extrinsically by an explicit or implicit declaration of the Church” (1). 

In relation to the liturgical argument as it is employed by the Supreme Pontiffs, Father Pinto says 
that, of itself, an Encyclical is more decisive doctrinally than the liturgy (2). That declaration is 
important, because it is known that the Encyclicals, as such, do not constitute dogmatic definitions; 
much less, therefore, can one attribute such a prerogative to liturgical texts which are not “ratified and 

* * * 

On the basis of two documents of Saint Pius V, the author observes: 

“One can not lightly assume that particular liturgies which have maintained themselves in communion 
with Rome for two hundred years , contain errors of faith and morals” (3). 

Among the conclusions of the Chapter referring to Saint Augustine, we read: 

“In matters of faith and morals, the qualification of propositions included in liturgical prayers and rites 
of the universal Church depends, then, on the way in which the Church considers them in these latter: if 
she considers them as a matter of faith, that is, clearly and obviously, as a truth professed and lived by 
her, they will be propositions of faith; if she considers them as accepted Catholic doctrine, they will be 
Catholic doctrine; if she considers them as probable, they will be probable doctrine. The absolution at a 
distance, and absolution of an unconscious moribund person, practiced in the Church as being of 
probable efficacy, are an argument for the probability of this efficacy” (4). 

* * * 

The following considerations of Father Pinto in relation to the position of Saint Peter Canisius on 
the matter which occupies us are enlightening: 

“ The letter to Paula , which questions the corporal Assumption - falsely attributed to Saint Jerome and 
for this reason removed from the lessons of the office of the Assumption - was replaced by the homilies 
of Saint Athanasius and of Saint John Damascene which affirm the doctrine of the corporal Assumption, 
and on being retired from the liturgy, says Saint Peter Canisius, it lost much of its 

(1) M. Pinto , op. cit., pp. 236-237. 

(2) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 242. 

(3) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 244; see also pp. 229-230. 

(4) M. Pinto , op. cit., p. 263. 


authority. This fact, and the commentary of the Holy Doctor indicate that the authority of the lessons of 
the Breviary is, in the mind of the Church, that of those to whom they are officially attributed, even 
though the Church corroborates them with her approbation, for she commands that they be read. But 
she does not give them decisive doctrinal force by this act as long as the contrary is not made clear by 
the circumstances. 

In spite of the certainty which the Feast already gave to the doctrine of the Corporal Assumption 
at the time of Saint Peter Canisius, the Church had not made a pronouncement, and the same Saint 
explained, distinguishing three classes of truths of the faith: explicit dogmas , which one must believe 
under pain of heresy; the truths accepted by the faithful and sanctioned by the practice of the Church 
which it is rash to deny, and certain truths expressed by the public worship , whose authority continues to 
increase as the teachers of the Church go corroborating them with more interest and as they go 
penetrating into the convictions of the faithful. 

In this latter category was, at the time of Saint Peter Canisius, the doctrine of the Assumption of 
Mary as he says immediately afterwards” (1). 

* * * 

One more observation in relation to the work of Father Pinto. We said above (2) that we 
considered that there existed a marked analogy between the manner by which the Church exercises her 
Magisterium in relation to that which constitutes the direct object of infallibility, and the manner by 
which she exercises it in relation to the indirect object of infallibility - Liturgy, Canon Law, approval of 
religious orders. Beatification and Canonization of Saints, etc. 

Father Pinto admits this analogy (3). And he makes furthermore a very suggestive comparison 
between the functions of the Magisterium in respect to the Liturgy and in respect to Sacred Scripture. In 
both cases, it belongs to the Church to pronounce on the true sense of the texts; in both cases the 
declarations of the Magisterium can involve varying degrees of authority; in both cases infallibility can 
only be involved in that which concerns the truths which are directly or indirectly of faith and morals, 
etc. (4). 

These considerations of Father Pinto help one to understand that the principles which preside 
over the action of the Magisterium in the most varied fields, are substantially the same. 

d. Father C. Vagaggini, O.S.B. 

Among contemporary authors who have studied the question of infallibility in the liturgy. Father 
Cipriano Vagaggini, O.S.B., is outstanding. A 

(1) M. Pinto , op. cit., pp. 296-297. 

(2) On pp. 108-109, 114-115. 

(3) See, for example, op. cit., pp. 332, 350. 

(4) See M. Pinto , op. cit., pp. 325-333. 


figure of great prestige, in the Congregation for Divine Worship, and professor of the College of Saint 
Anselm, of Rome, he has been one of fiercest champions of the new Orclo Missae. 

If we cite here a notorious progressive like Father Vagaggini, it is for the two fold reason: on the 
one hand because in this particular, various arguments presented by him appear to us to be absolutely 
conclusive. (“Examine everything, and accept that which is good” - I Thess. 5, 21); and on the other 
hand, those who defend the new Ordo alleging the desire of conforming themselves in their own 
thinking to that of present-day Roman theological circles, cannot be indifferent to his influence in the 
Congregation for Divine Worship. 

In 1957 there appeared the first edition of his work II Senso Teologico della Liturgia (1), in 
which in a long chapter entitled “Liturgy and Faith”, he studies the theme which occupies us now. 

In divers questions Father Vagaggini does not agree with Father Pinto; it is however a matter of 
points which are collateral to the specific thesis which we have been defending, that is to say that the 
texts of the Roman liturgy or the universal liturgy are not all guaranteed by the infallibility of the 
Church. In relation to this particular point, Father Vagaggini is clear and incisive, as we shall see in that 
which follows. 

He begins the chapter to which we refer with two questions: 

“What precisely are the relations between the liturgy and faith, between the liturgy and theology? More 
specifically: to what extent does the liturgy oblige the faith of the person who believes, and what use can 
and must one make of the liturgy in theology?” (2). 

Having fixed in that way the object of the chapter, the author goes on to expound certain basic 
concepts for the solution of the question. Among these preliminary notions, he observes that in the last 
centuries there has been attained a more precise knowledge 

“of the fact that that which the Magisterium proposes to the faithful is proposed in very different degrees 
of authority and authenticity” (3). 

After a detailed study of the liturgy as didascalia (means of instruction) in the Church (4), the 
author takes up the theme which interests us now, in a paragraph subordinated to the following subtitle: 

“Some general rules to determine up to what point the Church imposes in the liturgy, something as being 
of faith” (5). 

This section begins with the following paragraph: 

(1) The citations which we shall make of this work have as a basis the second Spanish edition El Sentido 
Teologico de la Liturgia, B.A.C., Madrid, 1965), translation of the fourth Italian edition. 

(2) Vaqaqqini , op. cit., p. 473. 

(3) Vaqaqqini , op. cit., p. 475. 

(4) Op. cit., pp. 475-482. 

(5) Op. cit., p. 482. 


“Precisely because the liturgy, as a means of instruction, pertains to the ordinary Magisterium and, in 
addition to that, taken over all, is less precise in its concepts than the other means of instruction, it 
frequently presents very special difficulties to the theologian who considers it with the precise end of 
knowing up to what point, in a particular case, it is permitted to refer to the liturgy to know theoretically 
the teaching of the Magisterium. This difficulty makes itself felt especially if one wishes to determine in 
a doctrinal and rigorous manner, that which is of faith properly so called in the liturgy, in relation to a 
particular point, and that which is not of faith, and moreover, what degree of adhesion one must give to 
each of its elements” (1). 

To resolve the question the author proposes four rules, two of which are directly interesting in 
relation to the matter which we are treating. The second of these rules is expressed like this: 

“That which, in the liturgy, the Magisterium proposes for the adhesion of the faithful, and is accepted by 
the latter, is proposed with very different degrees of dogmatic authority, according to the cases, and 
likewise the faithful, who are well informed about the intention of the Magisterium, give their adhesion 
in a degree and a quality which is very different” (2). 

Explaining this rule, Father Vagaggini writes: 

“This is simply a rule of general theological methodology: not all that the Magisterium proposes is 
proposed in the same degree, and with the same authoritative force and with the intention of implicating 
in the same way its responsibility and doctrinal authority and the faith of those who believe. Some 
teachings are proposed to be believed with a divine and Catholic faith, under pain of shipwreck in the 
faith itself; in these, the Magisterium commits all its infallible authority. Others, on the contrary, are 
proposed with a lesser degree of authority. This degree, in its turn, can vary from that which the 
theologians call proximate to faith (...), up to an opinion simply admitted as such, or a mere hypothesis 
accepted in a more or less general way and which the Magisterium does not desire hie et nunc to 
contradict, and which although it is presupposing it, however still does not wish to assume in relation to 
it any special responsibility. Between these two extremes, there can exist an indefinite number of 
degrees and nuances. 

In the same way, the faithful must not give to everything which the Magisterium proposes an adhesion 
of the same degree and the same nature. The general rule is that the faithful give to each proposition of 
the Magisterium an adhesion in the degree and of the kind - 

(1) Op. cit., p. 482. 

(2) Op. cit., p. 486. 


neither more nor less - which the Magisterium requires of him (...). 

Naturally, this general rule holds also for that proposition of the doctrine of the Magisterium which is 
found, in its way, in the liturgy. In the divers elements of the liturgy, these degrees of proposal are very 
different. All the more different and difficult to distinguish, in as much as in the liturgy, as has been 
explained, the didactic purpose is only indirect, the explicit and precise didactic expression being rather 
rare” (1). 

The fourth rule is formulated as follows: 

“In practice, only by means of a complete theological study of each one of the questions, can one 
determine the degree of authority of any point of the liturgy, either historical or actual” (2). 

Commenting on this proposition, Father Vagaggini writes: 

“This fourth rule is, in my judgement, the most important. Indeed, having admitted the previous 
observations, the crucial point for the theologian or the layman, who is concerned to know what 
doctrinal value such or such element which is found in the historical or present-day liturgies has, is to 
know how to determine, in each case the degree of authority which the Magisterium gave to this element 
in the past epoch, or in the present-day. 

Can the study of the liturgy alone lead us to this result? From the liturgy alone one will be able at times 
to obtain indications. The importance given to a certain element of the liturgy in many or all cases, will 
possibly suggest that in that matter the Magisterium is committed in a more or less notable manner. Can 
the universality of the Feast of the Assumption in the different liturgies, and the implication of the 
ordinary and universal Magisterium in the presentation of this point of doctrine? 

As far as the rest, however, it will be difficult, if not impossible (3), to determine only on the basis of the 
liturgy, and with sufficient precision, the degree of authority which the Magisterium implicates in 
proposing a certain element. And, this, even if one supposes - something which does not always happen 
- that based only upon the liturgy it is possible to determine sufficiently even the sense of the element in 
question. Even the antiquity and universality of an element is not an absolutely conclusive proof that it 
is proposed in the liturgy by the Magisterium as being of divine and Catholic faith. Do not forget that to 
be able to argue conclusively that a doctrine is proposed by the Church as of divine and Catholic faith 
only by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, it is not enough to show that in proposing such a 
doctrine there 

(1) Op. cit., pp. 486-487. 

(2) Op. cit., p. 489. 

(3) On this point, Father Vaaaqqini exaggerates the difficulty of demonstrating a dogma only on the basis of the liturgy. 
Undoubted, the theologian ought to study all the aspects of a question in order to be able to argue in respect to it. But this 
principle holds for liturgical arguments, as well as for scriptural, patristic and any other arguments. It is not directly this 
problem which is in focus here. What is important to maintain is that, after having studied all of a dogmatic question, a 
theologian can frequently draw from the liturgy absolutely decisive arguments, which would be sufficient to demonstrate the 
doctrine taught by the Church. Father Vaaaqqini passes over this second aspect of the problem in silence, and insists that it is 
“difficult, if not impossible”, to determine with precision, only by means of the liturgy, the value of a certain teaching of the 
Magisterium. Therefore, it seems to us that he does not adequately express the truth about this matter, and that he weakens 
the doctrine relative to the theological value of the liturgy. 

In other terms; although he admits the general and indisputable principle that the faithful have in the liturgy an expression 
of their faith (see op. cit., especially pp. 473-482), Father Vagaggini . moving on to the concrete case, restricts excessively this 
didascalic value of the Sacred Liturgy. At any rate, there is no way to deny that in numerous cases it is impossible to 
determine the degree of authority of liturgical texts only by means of arguments drawn from the liturgy itself. And this 
conclusion is sufficient for us for the moment, for we are only seeking to demonstrate that not all of the liturgical dispositions 
involve the infallibility of the Church. 

Furthermore, we wish to call the attention of those who are defending the new Ordo on the basis of the unqualified 
concept of the infallibility of the liturgy, to the fact that Father Vagaggini himself, a figure of great prestige in the Congregation 
for Divine Worship would not subscribe to this way of thinking. 


exists moral unanimity among the bishops united with the Roman Pontiff, but it is necessary to prove 
that they propose it precisely as of faith. The moral unanimity must be about the fact that this doctrine 
was proposed as of faith” (1). 

After examining, from this point of view, the historical examples of the Immaculate Conception 
and the Assumption, and after writing about other aspects of the theory which he expounds, the author 

‘‘Whence it follows that, for him who is directly concerned with this aspect of things, that is the 
theologian, there is no other means to satisfy his legitimate interest, except to resort to a complete 
theological study of the question with which he is occupied. Only this general theological study of the 
question, made according to the known general criteria of theology and with the profitable use of the 
lights of which the science of theology disposes, will be able to indicate to him, in the measure that is 
possible, up to what point, with what degree of authority, and in what sense the ordinary Magisterium 
imposes in the liturgy, a determined point for the adhesion of the faithful and, for this very reason, to 
what degree and kind of adhesion the faithful in turn, are bound” (2). 

6. The New Missal and the Infallibility of the Church 

Before examining the concrete case of the new Ordo, we shall resume the principles expounded 
up to here and we shall fix with clarity the state of the question: 

1. we have seen that in general, the neo-scholastic manuals consider the thesis that the universal laws of 
the Church, among which are included the liturgical laws, involve infallibility, as theologically certain 


2. we showed, next, that this thesis has - or appears to have - solid support in Tradition (4); 

3. we emphasized that, in spite of the testimonies of Tradition, which have been alleged, there 

exist grave reasons, both of the doctrinal as well as the historical order, for us to doubt that the universal 
liturgical laws implicate always and necessarily the infallibility of the Church (5); 

4 . we observed that this doubt has support in Tradition, for in numerous documents we find hesitations 
and restrictive expressions in relation to the thesis of infallibility in disciplinary and liturgical matters 
( 6 ); 

5. we found, finally, that in the theology of the last few decades, it is becoming more and more clear that 
the universal liturgical dispositions 

(1) Vaqaqqini , op. cit., pp. 489-490. 

(2) Vaqaqqini , op. cit., p. 491 . 

(3) On pp. 106 ff. 

(4) On pp. 1 09 ff. 

(5) On pp. 114-115. 

(6) On pp. 115 ff. 


involve the authority of the Church in variable degrees, according to the measure in which the Holy See 
or the sacred Hierarchy, have committed, in each specific case, their own authority (1); 

6. therefore, it remains for us only to ask, in order to resolve the question formulated in the introduction 
of this appendix, in what measure the documents referring to the New Mass, uti jacent, reveal that Paul 
VI had desired to commit his authority in that matter. This is what we shall see in the following. 

* * * 

On the one hand, it is true that in various pronouncements, Paul VI declared the New Mass, in 
principle, obligatory (2). It is necessary, however, not to forget that the obligation of a law is not, by 
itself, an absolutely clear sign that infallibility is involved in it. There have been in the past liturgical 
dispositions, which have already been revoked, which although obligatory, were not guaranteed by 
infallibility (3). 

On the other hand, the Congregation for Divine Worship (4) and the Holy Father himself (5) 
determined that until November 1971 the Missal of Saint Pius V will still be in use (6). 

Now, the fact that the Missal of Saint Pius V continues canonically in use, of itself, is a mere 
indication - evidently not decisive (7) - that Paul VI did not have the intention of using his infallibility 
in the new texts of the Missal. 

There exists however, a document which - this is true - is decisive in relation to the present 
question. It is the discourse of November 19, 1969, in which Paul VI, referring to the new Ordo, says: 

“the rite and the respective rubrics ARE NOT by themselves A DOGMATIC DEFINITION: they are 
liturgical context to which they refer; they are gestures and terms which are related to a religious action, 
lively and living, of an ineffable mystery of the divine presence, which is not always realized in the 
same manner, an action which only theological criticism can analyze and express in doctrinal formulae 
which are logically satisfactory” (8). 

Therefore, if Paul VI himself declared explicitly that the rites and the rubrics of the New Mass 
“are susceptible of a theological qualification of varying value”, it does not seem to us possible to 
sustain that the texts of the New Mass, as such, involve the infallibility of the Church. Such a 
conclusion would impose itself in this concrete case, even if there subsisted doubts, in the theoretical 
terrain, about the existence of universal ecclesiastical laws which do not involve the infallibility of the 

(1) On pp. 124 ff. 

(2) We say obligatory “in principle” because, as we shall see later, the Missal of Saint Pius V continues in force, beside 
that of Paul VI . 

We should emphasize that we refer here to the strictly canonical aspects of the documents relative to the new Ordo. We abstract 
therefore, from the dogmatic aspect of the question, as well as from the eventual canonical implications of this letter. 

(3) See, for example, pp. 125-126. 

(4) Instruction of October 20, 1969. 

(5) Discourse to the general audience, November 26, 1969. 

(6) As the Diocesan Curia of Campos . Brazil, made clear in a communication of September 1 , 1970, “every priest can 

always celebrate in Latin”, and “the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship concedes to every priest who celebrates in Latin, the faculty of 
conserving the Ordo Missae of Saint Pius V” (“Catolicismo”, n. 237, September 1970, last p. ). 

Moreover, various canonists have declared that, independently of the postponing of the question until November 1971 , the Ordo of Saint 
Pius V was not formally prohibited. In defense of this thesis they allege, on the one hand, the not very clear terms with which the Constitution 
“Missale Romanum” makes obligatory the new Ordo\ and on the other hand, the fact the age old and immemorial customs in opposition to the 
new Ordo. have not been expressly revoked according to the terms of can. 30. - See “ La Pensee Catholique ”, n. 122, 1969, pp. 44-47; 
“ Courriet de Rome .” n. 49, p. 7; n. 56, pp. 4-5; De Nantes . L’interdit..., pp. 7-8; Beauchamp . La nouvelle Messe..., pp. 1-2. 

(7) It is a question of an indication for, as we see (pp. 115 ff.) divers theologians declare that an ecclesiastical law only involves infallibility 
when it obliges one strictly to practice a certain act. Such an indication is now however decisive because other theologians think in a different 
manner (pp. 109 ff. ). 

(8) Paul VI . general audience, November 19, 1969, Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, vol. VII, p. 1 123. - The capitals are ours. 




In divers troubled periods in the history of the Church, the theological question of the eventual 
fall of a Pope into heresy attracted the greatest interest (1). In those periods theologians as well as 
moralists and canonists devoted themselves to the examination of this delicate problem without ever 
arriving, however, at a uniform and definite consensus. 

When those difficult moments had passed, the debates about the possibility of a heretical Pope 
ceased to attract the attention of the studious. In general the authors dedicate to them, then, only a few 
lines, as someone who had recalled an academic and curious problem, which however would never more 
become urgently interesting. 

The uncontested possession of the Roman See by a long series of Pontiffs in the last centuries, 
has reconsigned to oblivion the question of a heretical Pope. Above all from the XVII Century to now, 
rare are the theologians who have dedicated themselves to examine this matter (2). 

Beginning with the Pontificate of John XXIII, an attentive observer could nevertheless note that 
the delicate matter was returning, little by little, to interest specialized circles (3). 

In spite of the relative frequency with which the question of a heretical Pope is being broached in 
our days, there has not been published to our knowledge in recent years an ample, systematic and up to 
date study of the matter. 

Because of this fault, in our opinion, the debates over this theme are greatly impaired. From this 
it results for instance that - as we have been observing with more and more preoccupation - our 
contemporaries have in general studied the hypothesis of a heretical Pope with partial or even false 
notions of the state of the question. Various for this reason have fallen into evident errors and 
simplifications, which are rendering more difficult a lucid and coherent management of the grave 
theoretical and practical problems involved in the matter. 

There are some who, knowing only the position of a certain author and of those who follow him, 
analyze the contemporary events only in the light of the doctrine of the author - and thus they do not 
consider the fact that other theologians of great authority sustain different theses. 

It is not enough to say, for instance, that, as Cajetan or Suarez teach, the Cardinals and the 
bishops ought to declare the Pope deposed, should he become a heretic. Indeed there exist theologians 
of weight according to whom a true pope can never all into heresy; others, also of great authority, while 
they admit the hypothesis of a fall into heresy, sustain nevertheless that the 

(1) Such was the case, for example, in the VIII Century, on account of the ambiguous attitudes of Pope Honorius I in the face of 
Monothelitism; in the XII Century, when Paschal II weakened in relation to the question of investiture; in the XV and XVI Centuries on account 
of the scandals of Alexander VI. 

(2) Rightly then, does Dublanchv , in the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, after analyzing the opinions of the classic theologians on the 
possibility of a Pope heretic, write: “We stop our studies at the end of the XVII Century, because from then on the theological controversy is 
not very interesting, in as much as the positions remained the same and in most cases, the question merits, on the part of the theologians, 
only a brief mention” (article “Infaillibilite de Pape”, in Diet, de Theol. Cath., col. 1716). 

(3) Various factors have given rise to this problem in these days: in the first place, the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, a fact 
which made all the theological questions about the relations between the Pope and the Council most timely; in the second place, the profound 
symptoms of crisis in the Church, which already at that time constituted a motive of preoccupation for numerous spirits; in the third place, the 
efforts of certain progressives in proclaiming the possibility of a Pope heretic, with the objective of weakening the pontifical authority. 


destitution of the pope is produced ipso facto, without the necessity of any declaration; there are furthermore 
many who hold other positions, as we shall see later. 

In this matter, therefore, there are various opinions which enjoy at least extrinsic probability (1). This 
being the case, what right has anyone, in our days, to attach himself to one of these opinions, seeking to impose it 
without more ado? There is no doubt that extrinsic probability yields to intrinsic evidence; but where are the well 
founded and exhaustive publications, which permit a reevaluation, in new terms, of the basic data of the 
momentous matter? (2). 

We judge it, therefore, more urgent than anything else to present an overall vision of the various opinions 
of the great theologians of the past on the problem of a heretical pope. And this is only an initial but 
indispensable step, so that one can get out of the stagnation in which lie the studies concerning this question, since 
the XVII Century, according to the observation of Dublanchy which we cited above (3). 

Such being the case, our purpose in this second part of the present work is two fold. On the one hand, it 
consists in indicating in detail what are the opinions about this matter, asking the attention of the studious for the 
reasons alleged by the various authors. And, on the other hand, it consists in communicating to the reader certain 
conclusions to which the analysis of the sources and reflection have brought us with the intention of making thus 
a small contribution in order that the theologians might reach a common opinion in this matter (4). 

We restrict our considerations to the terrains of dogmatic theology, moral and canon law, putting to one 
side the historical problems. Without doubt a re-study in the light of the data known today about the question of a 
Pope heretic - of the pontificates of Liberius, of Honorius I, of Pascal II, of Alexander VI, etc. would be most 
opportune (5). In the present exposition, nevertheless, there is no room for such deep research (6). 

In order to clarify the question of a pope heretic, it is necessary to consider also certain problems 
connected to it, which we take up in the final chapters of this Part II: the hypothesis of a schismatic pope and of 
the dubious pope (chapter VIII), the possibility of errors and heresies (7) in pontifical and conciliar documents 
(chapter IX and X), and the right of public resistance to eventual iniquitous decisions of ecclesiastical authority 
(chapter XI). 

(1) “A Proposition or opinion is called probable when it has in its favour reasons or motives of such weight, that a prudent person can assent 

to it, not in a firm manner (as in the case of certainty), but with a fear of error” ( Noldin-Schmitt-Heinzel . Summa Theol. Mor., vol. I, p. 215, n. 

The intrinsic or internal probability “is founded upon reasons drawn from the very nature of the thing”; the extrinsic or external is “based 
directly upon the authority of the learned” (idem, ibidem, p. 215, n. 226). 

“The external probability perse supposes the internal, that is, it supposes that the learned have been led by internal reasons to embrace 
the truth” idem, ibidem, p. 21 5, n. 226). 

Granted that the external probability is based essentially upon the internal, it is not licit to appeal to the external probability when one 
knows that the opinion is false and does not have any internal probability of being correct, even though authors of great name defend the 
opinion. External probability without internal probability can only be invoked when one is treating of an obscure matter, involved in difficulties, 
and still not sufficiently clarified by the authors” (idem, ibidem, p. 225, n. 238). 

(2) It behooves one to keep well in mind the grave risks there would be in embracing in an absolute fashion one of the opinions admitted 
among the theologians, with the exclusion of the others, without having objectively decisive reasons for this, such as our ancestors did not 
succeed in establishing. Let us suppose that, confronted with a hypothetically heretical Pope, someone would judge him to be ipso facto 
deposed, as St. Robert Bellarmine teaches, and would draw the practical consequences following from that. This person would indeed incur 
the risk of falling into schism, which would be the result in case the opinion of Caietan or Suarez , for example were true, which requires a 
declaration of heresy in order that such a Pope be effectively deprived of his charge. 

In the inverse sense, let us suppose that someone took as certain, without more ado, the opinion of Suarez. This person would have to, 
in sound logic, accept as dogma an eventual solemn definition which a heretical Pope made before the sentence of declaring his sin of heresy 
was pronounced. Now, such an acceptation would be rash, for, according to what is held by doctors of weight, such a Pope, could already 
have ceased to be true, and therefore could define, as dogma, something false. 

(3) See note 2 of page 1 41 . 

(4) As is evident, for an opinion to be classified as “common”, it is not necessary that it have the approval of theologians 
of a notoriously doubtful orientation. 

(5) Refuting the objections which can be made against the doctrine of infallibility, St. Robert Bellarmine studies the 

cases of forty Popes. This number represents about 17% of the Pontiffs who had reigned up to that time (De Rom. Pont., lib. IV, cap. 8-14, pp. 

(6) In dogmatic material, it is obvious that, we will pay more attention to what Tradition says to us, than to the arguments of reason. Such 
being the case, when we allude to historical facts, it will not be with the intention of analyzing them as such, but only seeking to gather the aide 
which the History of the Church can furnish for the clarification of Tradition in the matter. 

(7) In chapters I to VII, dedicated to the analysis of the diverse opinions of the theologians about the question of a Pope heretic, we will 
consider only the possibility of heresy in the Pope as a private person . For that is the only hypothesis which the authors treat explicitly and ex 
professo. In chapter X, nevertheless, we will show that sacred theology does not exclude the possibility of heresy in the Pope as a public 
person , that is, in official pontifical documents. As is evident, such a possibility is limited to the documents which do not involve infallibility. 



The Five Opinions Dealing with the Hypothesis of a Pope Heretic 
Expounded by Saint Robert Bellarmine 

In the analysis of the divers opinions of the theologians over the hypothesis of the Pope heretic, 
we will adopt the classification presented by Saint Robert Bellarmine. Even today this is entirely valid 
in as much as the studies about the matter have made practically no progress in the last centuries. For 
this reason, many recent authors order the matter following in the footsteps of the great doctor of the 
Counter- Reform (1). When, nevertheless, it appears to us that the division of St. Robert Bellarmine does 
not distinguish with precision all the nuances which characterize certain schools, we will suggest sub- 
divisions within his classification. 

He enumerates five opinions worthy of study (2): 

1 - the Pope can not be a heretic; 

2 - falling into heresy, even merely internal, the Pope ipso facto loses the Pontificate; 

3 - even though he falls into heresy, the Pope does not lose his charge; 

4 - the Pope heretic is not deposed ipso facto, but must be declared deposed by the Church; 

5 - the Pope heretic is ipso facto deposed in the moment in which his heresy becomes manifest. 

In establishing this classification, Saint Robert Bellarmine only sought to order the matter in a 
manner convenient for the exposition of the reasons and objections which can be alleged in relation to 
each opinion. It was not his purpose to make a complete and systematic presentation of the principal 
positions which have been taken, in the course of the centuries, over the theological hypothesis of a 
Pope heretic. He does not refer, for example, to the doctrine of conciliarism, which had enormous 
importance in the past, and which, although of condemned by the Church, (3) is sprouting up again in 
numerous progressive writings. The great Jesuit Saint did not set out clearly the logical criteria 
according to which he ordered the matter. All this creates a certain difficulty 

(1) See, for example: Wernz-Vidal , lus Cart., tom. II, pp. 433 ff.; Cocchi , Comment, in Codicem..., vol. Ill, p. 25- 
26; Reqatillo . Inst. Juris Canonici, vol. I, p. 299. 

Others adopt the classification of Saint Robert Bellarmine, but they introduce small alterations into it: Bouix , 
Tract de Papa, tom. II, pp. 654 ft.; Sipos , Ench. luris Can., p. 156, item d. 

(2) De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, cap. XXX. - We will not consider, here, observations which Saint Robert 
Bellarmine makes about this matter in other passages of his writings. 

(3) See Denz.-Sch., systematic index, item G4db. 


for the comprehension of his classification, at the same time it may give rise to misunderstandings. 

In order to avoid these inconveniences, without however abandoning the classification of Saint 
Robert Bellarmine we present here a synoptic outline of the different opinions about the hypothesis of a 
Pope heretic. Organizing the material in accord with a logical criteria, we seek to give a global vision of 
the matter and we insert the five sentences, which we will analyze later, in the systematic whole in 
which they must be considered. 


Synoptic Outline of the Opinions about the Theological Hypothesis of a Pope Heretic 






INDEX (pages of this 
work in which each 
opinion is studied) 

A - The Pope cannot fall into heresy 

Classification of Saint 
Robert Bellarmine 

In the exposition of this opinion, we subdivide 
its followers into three groups (pp. 147-148): 

1 . Authors according to whom this opinion con- 
stitutes a truth of faith (Matthaeucci); 

2. authors according to whom this opinion is by 
far the most probable (Card. Billot); 

3. authors according to whom this opinion ap- 
pears to be only more probable that the oth- 
ers (Saint Robert Bellarmine, Suarez). 

St. Robert Bellarmine 


Suarez (**) 
Bouix (**) 

Billot (**) 

Chapter about this op- 
inion (146-155); 
Card.Billot (146-147); 
Suarez (147,154-155); 
St.R.Bellarmine( 155); 
Salaverri(155); refut- 
ation based on Script- 
ure and Tradition 
(148-153); we do not 
follow this opinion 
(172 ff.) 

B - Theologically one cannot exclude 
the hypothesis of a Pope heretic 

Stated by Saint Robert 
Bellarmine on saying that 
the first opinion is not 

See the following 
items (***) 

Explanation by refer- 
ences (p. 156) 

I - By reason of his heresy, the 
Pope never loses the Pontif- 

classification of Saint 
Robert Bellarmine 

Of the 136 authors whose positions on the hypo- 
thesis of a Pope heretic we examined, the only 
defender of this opinion is Bouix. 

Bouix (**) 

Chapter on this opin- 
ion (158-160); we do 
not follow this opin- 
ion (172 ff.) 

II - The Pope heretic loses the Pon- 

Expounded by Saint Robert 
Bellarmine together with 
the fourth opinion 

See the following 
items (***) 

Saint Robert Bellar- 
mine (169 ff.); object- 
ions Bouix (158 ff.); 
we follow this opin- 
ion (172) 

1) He loses the Pontificate in 
the very moment in which he 
falls into internal heresy, 
that is, before manifesting 
it externally 

classification of Saint 
Robert Bellarmine 

Opinion abandoned by the theologians today. 


Chapter on this opin- 
ion (156-157); an 
abandoned opinion 

2) He loses the Pontificate 
when his heresy turns 

classification of Saint 
Robert Bellarmine 

In expounding this opinion we subdivide those who 
follow it into three groups (pp. 170-171): 

1 . Authors who understand by “manifest” a heresy 
merely exteriorized; 

2. Authors who understand by “manifest” a heresy 
which, in addition to being exteriorized, has 
come to the knowledge of others; 

3. Authors who understand by “manifest” a heresy 
which becomes notorious and publicly divulged 

Some authors do not make entirely clear to which 
of these three schools they affiliate themselves 
(Saint Robert Bellarmine, p. 171). 

St. Robert Bellarmine 


Billot (**) 


Chapter on this opin- 
ion (168-171); Saint 
Robert Bellarmine 
(168-169); Pietro Bal- 
lerini (169-170); sub- 
division (170-171); 
evaluation (171); we 
follow this opinion, 
embracing the subdiv- 
ision n. 3 (172-176) 

3) He loses the Pontificate only 
upon the declaration of his 
heresy by a council, by the 
Cardinals, by groups of Bishops, 

Expounded by Saint Robert 
Bellarmine together with 
the fourth opinion 

See the following 
items (***) 

Exposition and refut- 
ation by Saint Robert 
Bellarmine (164-167); 
we do not follow this 
opinion (175) 

a) This declaration would be 
a deposition properly so 

Saint Robert Bellarmine 
does not list this opin- 
ion, because it is here- 

Under the form of neo-conciliarism, this opinion 
is sprouting up in numerous progressive writings. 

Gerson, Pierre 
D’Ailly, etc. 

Opinion condemned 
by the Church (161, 
note 1); neo-concil- 
iarism (161, note 3) 

b) This declaration would not be 
a deposition properly so 
called, but a mere act de- 
claring the loss of the Pon- 
tificate by the Pope heretic 

classification of Saint 
Robert Bellarmine 

As to who ought to make this declaration, see 
the passage of Suarez which we cite on pp. 163-164. 

Suarez (**) 

Chapter on this opin- 
ion (161-167); Suarez 
(161-164); refutation 
by Saint Robert Bell- 
armine (164-167); we 
do not follow this 
opinion (175) 

(*) As we have already noted, we refer here only to the classification presented by Saint Robert Bellarmine in De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, 
cap. XXX. 

(**) The authors marked by two asterisks judge it more probable that a Pope could not fall into heresy, but do not consider this position to be 
certain. For this reason, they analyse the possibility of a Pope who would become a heretic and they take a position concerning the problem 
of his eventual lose of the Pontificate. Therefore, do not find it strange, that the names of these authors appear two times in the column 
“principal defenders” of the different opinions: among those who follow the thesis that the Pope will never fall into heresy (first opinion of the 
classification of Saint Robert Bellarmine), and among those who make pronouncements concerning the lose of the Pontificate by a heretic 
Pope (according to the fifth opinion of the classification of Saint Robert Bellarmine). Concerning this subject, see pp. 154-155. 

(***) In view of the criteria adopted for the enunciation of the “divers opinions”, it becomes clear that position B, B-ll, and B-ll-3 constitute 
generic opinions, which become more specific from what follows immediately after. This being so, we de not indicate the “principal 
defenders”, who are obviously those of the opinions that follow. 



First Opinion: God Will Never Permit That the Pope Fall Into Heresy 

The defenders of this first opinion judge, based as much on rational arguments as on the 
Scriptures and Tradition, that Our Lord will never permit that any successor of St. Peter should come to 
lose his faith (1). 

The first defender of this opinion, appears to have been Albert Pighi, a Dutch theologian of the 
XVIth Century, in his work Hierarchiae Ecclesiasticcie Assertio (2). 

Since then numerous authors have adopted this position. The most significant among them, for 
the authority which they enjoy and for the attention which they dedicate to the matter, are: Suarez (3), 
Saint Robert Bellarmine (4), Card. Billot (5) and the French canonist of the XIX Century, D. Bouix (6). 

Let us see how Cardinal Billot defends his position: 

“admitted the hypothesis that the Pope should have become notoriously heretical, one must concede, 
without hesitation, that he would lose ipso facto the pontifical power, since by his own will he has put 
himself outside the body of the Church, becoming an unbeliever (...) 

I said: “admitted the hypothesis”. But it appears by far more probable that this hypothesis is a mere 
hypothesis, never reducible to act, in virtue of what St. Luke says (22, 32): “I have prayed for you that 
your faith not fail, and you, once being converted, confirm your brethren”. That this ought to be 
understood of Saint Peter and of all his successors, is what the voice of Tradition attests, and what we 
shall demonstrate ex Professo later, on treating of the infallible magisterium of the Roman Pontiff. For 
the time being we shall consider this as absolutely certain (7). Now, even though these words of the 
Gospel refer principally to the pontiff in as much as a public person who teaches ex cathedra, one ought 
to affirm that they extend, by a certain necessity, also to the private person of the pontiff in regard to his 
preservation from heresy (8). To the pontiff, in effect, was given the ordinary function of confirming the 
rest in faith. For this reason, Christ - who for his dignity is heard in everything - asks for him the gift of 
an indefectible faith. But in favour of whom, I ask, is this petition made? Of an abstract and 
metaphysical person, or, rather of a real and living person, upon whom it is incumbent to confirm the 
rest? Or perhaps he will be called indefectible in the faith, who cannot 

(1) As is obvious, we are not discussing the possibility of the Pope being in material heresy. No one denies, that 
mistakenly or by inadvertence, the Supreme Pontiff can fall into material heresy, as a private person. As far as 
the equal possibility is concerned in what touches official but not infallible documents, see pp. 195 ft. 

(2) Lib. IV, C. VIII, Cologne, 1538, fol. CXXXI ss., cited by Dublanchy , article “Infaillibilite du Pape”, in Diet, de 
Theol. Cath., col. 1715. 

(3) See pp. 147-148, 154-155. 

(4) See pp. 147, 155. 

(5) Text which we cite in the following. 

(6) See pages 158-160. 

To avoid misunderstandings, we wish to insist on a point already emphasized in the second note to the 
synoptic outline on page 145. Almost all the defenders of this first opinion consider it not certain. For this reason, 
they analyze also the hypothesis of the Pope falling into heresy, giving their opinions on his possible destitution in 
this eventuality. It is not then to be wondered at that various of the followers of this first opinion are listed also 
among the followers of other opinions. This is the case of Saint Robert Bellarmine , Suarez , Cardinal Billot , Bouix , 
- See in this respect pages 154-155. 

(7) Note that Cardinal Billot does not qualify it as “absolutely certain” that the Pope cannot turn heretic, but yes 
that the passage of the Scriptures alluded to refers to Saint Peter and his successors - which no Catholic author 
can deny, whatever be the exact meaning of the promise made here by Our Lord. 

(8) In general the authors do not admit that the quoted passage of the Gospel must be applied necessarily to the 
person of the Pope in his pronouncements which are not ex cathedra. This is what we show later (p. 148) citing 
Palmieri , Van Leak , Straub , Dublanchy . 


err in establishing what the others must believe, but personally can become shipwrecked in the faith? 
And - observe - even though the Pontiff, falling into notorious; heresy, lost ipso facto the pontificate, he 
would however logically fall into heresy before losing his charge; this being so, the defectibility in the 
faith would co-exist with the duty of confirming his brethren, which the promise of Christ would seem 
to exclude in an absolute way. More yet: if, considering the providence of God, it cannot happen, that 
the Pontiff fall into occult or merely internal heresy, for this would cause concomitant evils very much 
worse. Now, the order established by God, requires absolutely that, as a private person, the Supreme 
Pontiff cannot be a heretic not even losing the faith in the internal forum alone. “For - writes Saint 
Robert Bellarmine {De Rom. Pont., lib. IV. c. 6) - the pontiff not only must not and cannot preach 
heresy, but he must also always teach the truth, and without doubt he will do that, given that Our Lord 
ordered him to confirm his brethren. But how, I ask, will a heretical Pontiff confirm his brothers in the 
faith and always preach the true faith? God can, without doubt, wrench from a heretical heart a 
confession of the true faith, as at another time he made the mule of Balaam speak. But this would be 
rather violent and not at all in conformance with the manner of acting of Divine Providence, which 
disposes all things with sweetness (1). - Finally, if the hypothesis of a Pope who turned notoriously 
heretical were made a reality, the Church would be thrown into such and so many afflictions, that 
already a priori one can perceive that God would never permit it (2).” 

A. Nuances within this First Opinion 

Among the positions adopted by the defenders of this first opinion, there exist certain nuances, 
which it behooves us to put in relief. 

There are those who think that this opinion constitutes a truth of the faith. Such was, for 
example, the thinking of Matthaeucci, a Franciscan theologian who died in 1722 (3). 

Other authors, among whom is Cardinal Billot, whom we cite above, do not think that this 
opinion constitutes a truth of faith, but they classify it as by far the most probable, tending to lesson the 
probability of the opposing opinions. 

Others, finally, defend this position in an even less rigid way. This is the case of Suarez and of 
Saint Robert Bellarmine. It does not seem to them that the passage of Saint Luke (22, 32) is decisive, at 
the same time that, according to them certain documents of Tradition, which admit the hypothesis of a 
Pope heretic, have a greater value than that attributed to them, for example, by Cardinal Billot. 

We can see that even the tone of the argumentation of Suarez differs from that which we can 
note in the cited passage of Cardinal Billot: 

“Though many (4) may hold, with verisimilitude (that the Pope can fall into heresy), to me however, in a 
few words, it appears more pious and more probable to affirm that the Pope, as a private 

(1) For the reason stated further on (especially those stated on pages 148 ft. and 172), it does not seem to us that the argument adduced 
here by Saint Robert Bellarmine or by Cardinal Billot demonstrates the thesis sustained by them as being the most probable. There is 
nevertheless in this argument a residue which is undeniably true: Providence could not permit that the adhesion of the Pope to heresy be 
something frequent and as it were habitual. On the contrary, such a thing only could be admitted as exceptional, characterizing one of the 
most dramatic and profound trials to which the Church militant might be subjected. 

Taking the very example of the mule of Balaam given by St. Robert Bellarmine and by other followers of this first opinion, we would say 
that Providence would not have to permit that mules normally and frequently speak but one mule, the mule of Balaam, spoke. 

(2) Billot, Tractatus de Ecclesi Christi, 1909, tomus I, pp. 609-610. 

Neither does this last argument presented by Cardinal Billot appear conclusive. Could Our Lord, who permitted the malice of men to injure his 
very Person; to the point of carrying Him to die on the cross, not permit that the ingratitude of malice of men subject the Holy Church to a new 
Via Crucist That this could come about without breaking the promise of divine assistance, is obvious and was even prefigured in the fact that 
during the Passion not one bone of the sacred body of Our Redeemer was broken. 

(3) See Ferraris . Prompta Bibl., article “Papa”, col. 1843, n 65; col. 1845. 

This passage of Ferraris is reproduced by Bouix . Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 658. The affirmation cited from Matthaeuccius is found in his work 
Controv. VII, Cap. I, n 7. 

(4) In this point, Suarez refers to Saint Robert Bellarmine . De Summo Pont., lib. 4, cap. 7. 


person, can err by ignorance but not contumaciously. For though God could prevent the Pope heretic 
from causing damage to the Church, nevertheless the more smooth manner of acting of Providence 
would be that, having promised that the Pope would never err in defining, God in consequence would 
provide that he would never turn heretic. Furthermore, one ought to hold that that which up to now has 
never happened in the Church, by order and providence of God, cannot happen” (1). 

B. Arguments Contrary to this Opinion 

Against this first opinion it can be alleged, on the one hand, that the cited passage of Saint Luke 
(22, 32) is in general only applied to pontifical teachings which involve infallibility; and, on the other 
hand, that there are numerous testimonies of Tradition in favour of the possibility of heresy in the person 
of the Pope. 

1. Sacred Scripture 

As to the exact sense of the text of Saint Luke, numerous theologians sustain that for the fulfillment of 
the promise of Our Lord it is enough that there exist no errors in the infallible documents. Thus, they 
conclude that there is not sufficient reason to judge that the confirmation of the brethren postulates also 
the indefectibility of the faith of the Pope as a private person. Let us see how Palmieri, for example (2), 
expounds this argument: 

“(...) it is not necessary that the indefectible faith be in reality distinct from the confirmation of the 
brethren, but it is enough that it be distinguished by the reason. For if the authentic and solemn 
preaching of faith is infallible, he can confirm the brethren; for this reason, the infallible faith and that 
which confirms are one and unique; being infallible it enjoys also the power to confirm (his brethren). 
The indefectibility of the Pontiff in the Faith was asked so that he might confirm his brothers; therefore, 
from the words of Christ one can only infer as necessary that indefectibility which is necessary and 
sufficient to attain that end; and such is the infallibility of the authentic preaching (3)”. 

2. Tradition 

We indicate here some of the documents of Tradition which admit the possibility of the Pope 
falling into heresy. 

a. Documents Referring to Pope Honorius. There do not exist historical proofs which authorize one 
to affirm that Pope Honorius I had been a heretic; it is certain nevertheless that his letters to the Patriarch 
Serguis favored the monothelite heresy (according to which in Our Lord there is only one will). Since it 
is a matter of the favoring of heresy by a Pope, and not of heresy as such the case of Pope Honorius does 
not refer to our matter in a direct way. 

However, it is important for us to observe that this case, more perhaps than other analogous ones 
which history records, provided an occasion for Popes, 

(1) Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sact. VI. n 11, p. 319. - Neither does it seem to us that this last argument alleged by 
Suarez is decisive. For the end of the world, for instance, Our Lord prophesied terrible happenings (see Mat. 24, 
1-41; Mark 13, 1-31; Luke 21, 5-33), which in numerous of their aspects will not have had precedents in all of 

(2) The following declare themselves in the same sense: Van Laak , Inst. Theol. Fund. Repert. I, pp. 508-509; 
Straub , De Eccl, Christ, II, n. 1068, pp. 479-480 (quoted by Van Laak, op. cit., pp. 508-509): Dublanchy , Diet. De 
Theol. Cath., article “Infaill. du Pape”, col. 1717. 

(3) Palmieri , Tract, de Rom. Pont., pp. 631-632. 


Councils, Saints, Bishops and theologians to manifest their conviction that the hypothesis of the Pope being in 
heresy was not theologically absurd. Such being the case, we present in the following both documents which 
admit directly the possibility of a heretical Pontiff, and others which only admit it indirectly. In the second group 
are, for example, the documents which show the orthodoxy of the Pope to have been positively suspected. As is 
evident, such a suspicion would be vain and absurd for one who believed the defection of the Roman Pontiff in 
the faith to be impossible. The accusations of favoring heresy are also included in this second group, when by the 
terms in which they are formulated, or by other circumstances, it becomes probable that in reality it had been at 
least positively suspected that the Pope was a heretic. 

* * * 

The III Council of Constantinople, the VI Ecumenical one, declares that it has analyzed the dogmatic 
epistles of the Patriarch Sergius, as well as a letter written by Honorius I to the same patriarch. 

And it continues: “having verified that they are in entire disaccord with the apostolic dogmas and the definitions 
of the holy Councils, and of all the Fathers worthy of approval, and that on the contrary they follow the false 
doctrines of the heretics, we reject them absolutely and execrate them as harmful to souls” (1). 

After anathematizing the principal monothelite heresiarchs (2), the Council condemns Honorius: 

“We judge that, together with them, also Honorius, formerly Pope of Rome, was cast out of the Holy and Catholic 
Church of God and anathematized, for we have verified by his writing sent to Sergius, that he followed the 
thinking of the latter in everything, and confirmed his impius principles” (3). 

* * * 

Condemning Honorius as a favorer of heresy, Pope Saint Leo II (+683) wrote: 

“We anathematize also the inventors of the new error: Theodora, Bishop of Pharen, Cyrus of Alexandria, Sergius, 
Pyrrho (...) and also Honorius, who did not enlighten this Apostolic Church with the doctrine of the apostolic 
tradition, but permitted, by a sacrilegious treason, that the unspotted faith be stained (4). 

In a letter to the bishops of Spain, the same Saint Leo II declares that Honorius was condemned because 

“(...) he did not extinguish, as behooved his Apostolic authority, the kindling flame of heresy, but he fomented it 
by his negligence” (5). 

And in a letter to Erwig, King of Spain, Saint Leo II repeated that, with the heresiarchs mentioned, was 

“(...) Honorius of Rome, who consented that the spotless faith of the apostolic tradition which he had received 
from his predecessors be stained” (6). 

(1) Denz.-Sch. 550. 

(2) Denz.-Sch. 551 . 

(3) Denz.-Sch. 552 - the terms of this condemnation authorize one to conclude that the Council had 

Honorius as a heretic. But this is not the sense generally attributed to the document. Moreover, Pope Saint Leo 
II, who approved the III Council of Constantinople, in other writings condemned Honorius only as a favorer of 
heresy (next we present these pronouncements of Saint Leo II, to complete the documentation on this point). 

We cite here these passages from the VI Ecumenical Council and from Saint Leo II in terms of the 
observations made on page 148, at the beginning item 2a. 

(4) Denz.-Sch. 563. 

(5) Denz.-Sch. 561. 

(6) Denz.-Sch. 561. 


Also over the case of Pope Honorius, R. Baeumer writes: 

“Afterwards, that condemnation (of Honorius, by the VI Ecumenical Council) was renewed by the Synods “in 
Trullo” of 692 (Mansi, 11, 938), by the seventh general Council (Mansi, 13, 377) and by the eighth (Mansi 16, 
181). Leo II, who accepted the decision of the Sixth General Council, extenuated the fault of Honorius (...). The 
account of the condemnation of Honorius even entered into the Liber Diurnus. Every newly elected Pope had to 
condemn the authors of the new heresy, “together with Honorius, who favored their errors.” The very Liber 
Pontificalis and the Roman Breviary mentioned the condemnation, in the second nocturn of the feast of Pope 
Saint Leo II (...)” (1). 

* * * 

Therefore, the affirmation of V. Mondello, according to which a tradition already solid in the VIII century 
said that “a heretical Pope can be judged by a Council” (2) had a complete historical foundation. 

* * * 

Among the documents related to the case of Pope Honorius, perhaps none has such importance for our 
theme as the passage cited below, extracted from a discourse of Pope Adrian II to the VIII Ecumenical Council. 
As we shall see, whatever be the judgement which one makes in the case of Honorius I, we have here a pontifical 
declaration which admits the eventuality of a Pope falling into heresy (3). Here are the words of Adrian II, 
pronounced in the second half of the IX th Century, that is, more than two centuries after the death of Honorius: 

“We read that the Roman Pontiff has always judged the chiefs of all the churches (that is, the patriarchs and 
bishops); but we do not read that anyone has ever judged him. It is true that, after his death, Honorius was 
anathematized by the Orientals; but one must remember that he was accused of heresy, the only crime which 
makes the resistance of inferiors to superiors, as well as the rejection of their pernicious doctrines, legitimate” (4). 

b. During the Pontificate of Pascal II (1099-1118), the question of investiture shook Christendom once again. 
The Emperor Henry V, holding the Pope prisoner, extorted from him concessions and promises irreconcilable 
with Catholic Doctrine. Recovering his liberty, Pascal II hesitated for a long time to retract the acts which he had 
done under coercion. In spite of being admonished repeatedly by Saints, cardinals and bishops, his retraction and 
the hoped for excommunication of the Emperor were always postponed by him. There began to arise then in the 
whole Church a murmuring against the Pope, classifying him as suspect of heresy and adjuring him to turn back 
under pain of losing the Pontificate. 

We cite here some facts and documents of the struggle which Saints, Cardinals and bishops mounted 
against Pascal II. One will see thus, that the theology of the epoch admitted the hypothesis of a Pope heretic and 
judged that he, on account of such a sin, would lose the Pontificate (5). 

* * * 

(1) H. Baeumer , article “Honorius I” in Lexikon fuer Theologie und Kirche , 1961 - cited by Hans Kuenq , 
Structures..., page 304-305. 

(2) V. Mondello, La Dottrina del Caeteno ..., p. 25; see also p. 164 - The author reproduces, in these topics, the 
affirmation made by V. Martin in his work, Les Origines du Gallicanisme, tom. II, cap. I, pp. 12-13. 

As is evident, the term “judged” does not indicate necessarily, in this passage of V. Mondelli, that a Council 
could pass a true “judgment” on a Pope. But in the context the term signifies, according to the traditional authors, 
that a Council can pronounce a judgement on someone who was Pope and ceased to be because he had fallen 
into heresy. - We explain this problem in more detail in pages 161 (note 1) and 175 (item 5 and note 7). 

(3) On page 1 54 was cited a commentary in this sense, of Saint Robert Bellarmine , on the text cited here. 

(4) Adrian II , alloc, III, lecta in cone. VIII, “et. 7, cited by Billot , Tract. De Eccl. Christi, tom. I, p. 611 - See also 
Hefele-Leclercq , tome V, pp. 471-472. 

(5) In this case, as in that of Pope Honorius, it is not our objective to take a position in relation to a historical 
question. We only wish to show that theologians of authority had admitted the possibility of heresy in the person 
of the Supreme Pontiff. 


Saint Bruno, Bishop of Segni and Abbot of Monte Cassino, was at the head of the movement 
opposed to Pascal II in Italy. We do not posses any document in which he has declared in an 
indisputable fashion that he judged the Pope to be suspect of heresy. Nevertheless, this is the accusation 
which his letters and his acts insinuated unequivocally. 

To Pascal II, he wrote: “(...) I esteem you as my father and lord (...). I must love you; nevertheless I 
must love even more Him who created you and me. (...) I do not praise the pact (signed by the Pope), 
so horrible, so violent, done so treasonably, and so contrary to all piety and religion. (...) We have the 
Canons; we have the constitutions of the Fathers, from the times of the Apostles up to you. (...) The 
Apostles condemned and expelled from the communion of the faithful all those who obtained charges in 
the Church by means of secular power. (...) This determination of the Apostles (...) is holy, is 
Catholic, and whoever would contradict it, is not Catholic. For they alone are Catholics who do not 
oppose the faith and the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and, on the contrary, they are heretics who 
oppose obstinately the faith and doctrine of the Catholic Church. (...)” (1). 

In another letter, Saint Bruno stresses that he only considered heretics those who deny the 
Catholic principles on the question of investiture, and not those who in the concrete order, pressed by 
the circumstances, act in a way not in accord with true doctrine (2). However the reservation is not 
sufficient to exempt Pascal II from the suspicion of heresy, since he, even when the coercion had ceased, 
refused to correct the evil done. 

The Pope knew quite well that Saint Bruno did not shrink from the hypothesis of declaring him 
destitute, for he resolved to depose the Saint from the influential charge of Abbot of Monte Cassino on 
the basis of the following allegation: 

“If I do not remove him from the rule of the monastery, he with his arguments will take away from me 
the government of the Church” (3). 

And when, at last, the Pope retracted, before the synod convened in Rome to examine the 
question, Saint Bruno of Segni exclaimed: 

“God be praised! For behold that it is the Pope himself who condemned this pretended privilege (of 
investiture by the temporal power), which is heretical” (4). 

With this phrase, Saint Bruno for the first time let it be known publicly how much he suspected 
the orthodoxy of Pascal II. At this his enemies protested energetically; the most outstanding among 
them was the Abbot of Cluny, Jean de Gaete, “who - we read in Hefele-Leclercq - did not wish to 
permit that the Pope be accused of heresy” (5). 

* * 

Saint Bruno of Segni was not the only Saint of the epoch who admitted the possibility of heresy 
in Pascal II. In 1112, Archbishop Guido of Vienne, the future Pope Calistus II, convoked a provincial 
synod, at which appeared, among other bishops, Saint Hugo of Grenoble and Saint Godfrey of Amiens. 
With the ap- 

(1 ) Letter of Saint Bruno of Segni to Pascall II, written in 1111 — P. L., tom. 1 63, col. 463. See also Baronius . Annates , ad ann, 1111, n. 30, 
p. 228; Hefele-Leclercq . tom V, part. I, p. 530. 

(2) Letter to the bishops and cardinals: P. L .. tom. 165, col. 1139. See also the letter of Saint Bruno to the Bishop of Oporto: P. L ., tom. 165, 
col. 11 39, cited also by Baronius . Annates, ad ann. 1 1 1 1 , n 31 , p. 228. 

(3) Cited by Baronius . Annates, ad ann. 1111, n 32, p. 228. See also: Hefele-Leclercq . tom. V, part. I, p. 530: Rohrbacher . Hist. Univ. de 
L'Egtise Cath., tome XV, p. 130. 

(4) Cited by Hefele-Leclercq . tom. V, part. I, p. 555. 

(5) Hefele-Leclercq , tom. V, part. I, p. 555. 


proval of these two Saints, the Synod revoked the decrees extorted by the Emperor from the Pope and sent to the 
latter in which we read: 

“If, as we absolutely do not expect, you chose another way, and you refuse to confirm the decisions of our 
authority, may God help us, for thus you will be separating us from obedience to you” (1). 

These words contain a menace of a rupture with Pascal II, only explicable by the fact that in the spirit of 
the bishops met in Vienne there were united three notions: in the first place, they were convinced that it 
constituted heresy to deny the doctrine of the Church on investiture; in the second place, they suspected that the 
Pope had embraced that heresy, and, in the third place, they considered that a Pope in the eventuality of being 
heretical, would lose his charge, and should not any more, therefore, be obeyed. (2) This interpretation in 
confirmed, in such a way as to eliminate any doubt, by the letters written on the occasion by Saint Ives of 
Chartres, to which we allude in the following. 

After narrating the events of the Synod of Vienne, Hefele-Leclercq writes: 

“The result was that, on the 20 th of October of that same year, the Pope confirmed, in a brief letter and in vague 
terms, the decisions taken in Vienne, and praised the zeal of Guido. It was the fear of a schism which lead the 
Pope to take this attitude” (3). 

* * * 

To the discredit of this provincial Synod of Vienne, one could argue that another Saint, Bishop Ives of 
Chartres, refused to participate in it alleging that no one could judge the Pope (4). 

We do not intend here to study the History of the Synod of Vienne. We cite it only in order to show that, 
in the epoch, two saints and a future pope took an attitude in relation to Pascal II based on the principles that there 
could be a Pope heretic, and that in such a case the Pontiff loses his charge. Therefore, it will be only from this 
point of view that we shall occupy ourselves in analyzing the position of Saint Ives of Chartres. 

He also was opposed to the concessions made by Pascal II to the Emperor. He said that the Pope ought to 
be warned and exhorted by the bishops in order that he might repair the evil done. He dissented with the Synod of 
Vienne however, because he did not consider that the attitude of the Pope in the question of investiture involved 
heresy. (5). He affirmed, as a consequence, that Pascal II could not be submitted to the judgement of men, 
however grave his weaknesses might have been. Yet, Saint Ives recognized explicitly in his letter which 
constitutes for us an important testimony on the possibility of the defection of the Pope in the faith - that the 
Pontiff in the contingency of being a heretic would lose his charge. Here are his words: 

“(. . .) we do not wish to deprive the principal keys of the Church (that is, the Pope) of their power, whoever be the 
person placed in the See of Peter, unless he manifestly departs from the evangelical truth.” (6). 

Therefore the attitude taken by Saint Ives of Chartres is not opposed, 

(1) Cited by Bouix, Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 650. - See also: Hefele-Leclercq . tom. V, part. I, p. 536; Rohrbacher . Hist. Univ. de L'Eglise 
Cath., tom. XV, p. 61. 

(2) Geoffroi, Abbot-Cardinal of Vendome . gave the same opinions: see Rohrbacher . Hist. Univ. de L'Egi. Cath., tome XV, pp. 63-64. 

(3) Hefele-Leclercq . tom. V, part. I, pp. 536-537. 

(4) See: Bouix . Tract, de Papa, tom. II, pp. 650-651 : Rohrbacher Hist. Univ. de LEgi. Cath., tome XV, pp. 61-63. Saint Ives of 

Chartes . who took that decision together with some other bishops, explains his attitude in a letter addressed to the Archbishop of Lyon ( P. L .. 
162, 238 ft.). 

(5) As it seems, this dispute which divided even the very Saints who opposed Pascal II, originated in a certain confusion which remained 
about the concept of heretic. Some said that, since the Pope had not affirmed the heresy, he was not a heretic. Others maintained that 
having acted in a manner contrary to a defined dogma, he was a heretic. Later theology clarified better the principle that it is possible to fall 
into heresy not only by denying a dogma explicitly, but also by doing acts which reveal in an unequivocal manner a heretical spirit (we 
developed this theme in the article “Acts, gestures, attitudes and omissions can reveal a heretic”, in “Catholicismo”, n 204, December of 1967). 

Therefore, Saint Ives was right in sustaining that by the mere fact of acting in a way opposed to a dogma, Pascal II had not made himself 
a heretic. But, by his writings, one does not see that he had considered the other aspect of the question: acting continuously in a way 
contrary to a dogma can be enough to reveal a heretic. 

And, on their side, the Bishops met in Vienna were right when they said that it is possible to fall into heresy not only by words, but also by 
acts; but it is not certain that they had taken into account that such acts only reveal a heretic when, considered in all the circumstances, they 
reveal in an unequivocal manner a heretical spirit. Simple pusillanimity, for example, even though continued, does not constitute heresy. That 
must have been as the historians in general admit, the case of Pascal II. 

(6) PJ=. , tom. 162, col. 240. 


from the point of view which concerns us at this moment, to that of Saint Godfrey of Amiens and Saint 
Hugo of Grenoble, but on the contrary corroborates it. (1). 

c. From Gratian to Our Days. In the Decretum of Gratian appears the following canon, attributed to 
Saint Boniface the martyr: 

“Let no mortal have the presumption to accuse the Pope of fault, for, it being incumbent upon him to 
judge all, he should be judged by no one, unless he departs from the faith”. (2). 

In the Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique, Dublanchy furnishes some expressive data on the 
influence of this canon in fixing medieval thought in respect to the question of a Pope heretic: 

“One finds in the Decretum of Gratian this assertion attributed to Saint Boniface Archbishop of Mainz, 
and already cited as his by Cardinal Deusdedit (+1087) and by Saint Ives of Chartres, Decretum , V, 23 

After Gratian, this same doctrine is found even among the most convinced partisans of the papal 
privileges. Innocent III refers to it in one of his sermons. (...) In general the great scholastic 
theologians did not pay attention to this hypothesis; but the canonists of the Xllth and XHIth centuries 
know and commented on the text of Gratian. All admitted without any difficulty that the Pope could fall 
into heresy, as into any other grave fault; they were only concerned about investigating why and in what 
conditions he could, in the case, be judged by the Church” (3). 

A portion of a sermon of Pope Innocent III: 

“The faith is necessary for me to such an extent that, having God as my only judge in all other sins, I 
could however be judged by the Church for the sins which I might commit in matters of faith” (4). 

One understands then how right V. Mondello was to write: 

“Many in the Middle Ages admitted that a Pope heretic could be judged (5) by a Council; we can go so 
far as to say that it was a most common doctrine in that time, even among the very defenders of the 
Pope” (6). 

* * * 

To show that Tradition furnishes reasons of weight against the first opinion enumerated by Saint 
Robert Bellarmine - according to which a Pope could not turn heretic - we believe that it is not 
necessary here to extend our investigation to the later centuries. Indeed, in the following chapters we 
will adduce many documents of the last six centuries, so that it would be superfluous to indicate them 
right now. 

(1) The Decretum attributed to Saint Ives of Chartres also contains a reference to the possibility of a Pope heretic, as we indicate on this 
same page. We do not give it special emphasis because its authority is put in doubt today. It is nevertheless undeniable that this decretum 
receives no small recognition as an expression of medieval thinking. 

(2) Pars I, dist. 40, cap. 6, Canon “Si Papa", - The Decretum of Gratian was composed in the first half of the XII Century, probably about the 
year 1140. 

(3) Dublanchy . article “infaillibilite du Pape”, in the Diet, de Theol. Cath., cols. 1714 -1715. - Also another canon of Gratian is interpreted, by 
authors like Caietan (De Comparatione ..., p. 170) and Suarez (De Fide, disp. X, cap. VI, n. 15, p. 320), in the sense that declared a Pope 
heretic deprived of his charge. This had to do with the chapter Oves (C. 13, c. 2. q. 7), attributed to Pope Saint Eusebius (this canon would be 
from pseudo Isidore , according to what Bernardi concludes, “Gratian. Canon. Geniun.”, pars II, tom. II, cap. 29, p. 138, cited by Phillips . Du 
Droit Eccl., vol. I, pp. 179-180). 

(4) Cited by Billot . Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, p. 610. See also Sermo IV in cons. Pont., P. L .. 217, 670. Though such pronouncements 
evidently are not definitions of faith, they have nevertheless great authority, as coming from a Pope who was an intransigent and fearless 
defender of the pontifical prerogatives. 

(5) For the non-conciliarist acceptation of the term “judged”, in this context, see note 2 of page 150. 

(6) V. Mondello . La Dottrina del Gaetano..., p. 25. 


C. The Answer of the Defenders of this Opinion 

Of what reason do the partisans of the first opinion avail themselves to oppose such testimonies 
of Tradition, and so many others which could be alleged? 

Some of these authors, like Saint Robert Bellarmine and Suarez, do recognize that such 
documents weaken the thesis of the impossibility of a Pope heretic. 

However, there are those who try to contest the value of these documents. That is the case, for 
example, of Cardinal Billot (1). He maintains that the allocution of Adrian II, proves nothing, in as 
much as Pope Honorius in reality had not been a heretic; he contests the authenticity of the canon si 
Papa of Gratian; he sees in the words of Innocent III only oratorical hyperbole. 

Anyway, however, Cardinal Billot did not deny - nor would he be able to deny - that the Church 
has always left open the question of the possibility of heresy in the person of the Pope. Now, this fact, 
just by itself, constitutes an argument of weight in the evaluation of Tradition. It is what Saint Robert 
Bellarmine puts into relief in the following passage, in which he refutes, three centuries in advance, his 
future brother in the cardinalata and in the glorious Ignatian militia: 

“In regard to this one ought to note, that, while it is probable that Honorius had not been a heretic, and 
that Pope Adrian II, deceived by falsified documents of the VI Council, had erred in judging Honorius 
as a heretic, we cannot however deny, that Adrian, together with the Roman Synod and likewise with the 
whole VUIth General Council, was of the opinion that in case of heresy the Roman Pontiff can be 
judged” (2). 

D. A Merely Probable Opinion 

As we have already observed in brief notes (3), in general the partisans of this first opinion do 
not refuse to study what procedure is to be adopted in case the Pope falls into heresy. They act thus 
because they do not consider their position absolutely certain, but recognize that the other opinions 
enjoy at least extrinsic probability. This explains the fact, at first sight strange, that followers of this 
opinion are many times pointed out as partisans, also, of others. 

Here is how Suarez expresses his thinking on this point: 

“It seems consistent with the sweet Providence of God to never permit him to err in the faith to whom it 
is never permitted that he teach error. Therefore it is said that these two promises are included in those 
words “I have prayed for thee, Peter, that thy faith not fail”. 

(1) Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, pp. 610-612. See also: Bouix, Tract de Papa, tom. II, pp. 658-659; Phillips , Du 
Droit Ecci, vol. I, pp. 179-180. 

(2) Saint Robert Bellarmine , De Rom. Pont., lib. II, cap. 30, p. 418. 

(3) See note to the synoptic outline of p. 145, as well as note 6 of page 146. 


Since, however, this opinion is not generally accepted and the general Councils have some times 
admitted the hypothesis in discussion (of heresy in the Pope), supposing it to be thus at least possible, 
one must say that, if he becomes a heretic, the Pope would not fall ipso facto from his dignity, by reason 
of the loss of faith, but (...etc.)” (1). 

* * * 

And Saint Robert Bellarmine writes: 

“(...) there are five opinions about this matter. The first is that of Albert Pighi ( Hierarch . Eccles., lib. 4, 
cap. 8), for whom the Pope cannot be a heretic and therefore cannot be deposed in any case. This 
opinion is probable and can be defended easily, as we shall show later in its due place. Since, however, 
it is not certain, and since THE COMMON OPINION IS TO THE CONTRARY, it is useful to examine 
what solution should be given to that question, in the hypothesis that the Pope could be a heretic” (2). 

* * * 

On the same matter, the following passage, from an eminent contemporary theologian, the 
Spanish Jesuit Father Joaquin Salaverri, is also enlightening: 

As a private person, can the Pope fall into heresy? The theologians dispute about this question. To use 
“it seems more pius and more probable” to admit that God will take care, by his Providence, “that never 
will a Pope be a heretic”. For this opinion, sustained by Saint Robert Bellarmine and Suarez, was also 
praised in the First Vatican Council by Bishop Zinelli, Speaker of the Faith in the following terms: 
“Confident in supernatural Providence, we judge it to be quite probable that that will never happen. But 
God does not fail in the things that are necessary; therefore, if he permits so great an evil, the means to 
remedy such a situation will not be lacking” (Cone. Vatic., Mansi 52, 1109)” (3). 

(1) Suarez , De Legibus, lib. IV, cap. 7, n 10, p. 361. - In what follows, Suarez defends his opinion (see pages 
161 ff). 

(2) Saint Robert Bellarmine , De Rom. Pont., lib, II, cap. 30, p. 418. The capitals are ours. 

(3) Salaverri , De Eccl. Christi, p. 71 8. 



Second Opinion - Falling into Heresy, Even Though Merely Internally, the Pope 

Loses Ipso Facto the Pontificate 

The followers of this second opinion do not deny that, because of the arguments already 
indicated (1), the Pope might turn heretic. And, admitting that there is complete incompatibility 
between heresy and ecclesiastical jurisdiction - above all pontifical jurisdiction - they maintain that the 
Pope heretic loses his charge ipso facto, even before the exteriorization of his heresy. 

a. In favor of this Opinion militate divers arguments, which Suarez sets out and afterwards 
refutes (2). After showing, based on passages of Scripture, that the faith is the foundation of the Church, 
Suarez writes: 

“Therefore, if the faith is the foundation of the Church, it is also the foundation of the Pontificate and of 
the hierarchical order of the Church. This is confirmed by the fact that that is the reason presented to 
explain why Christ had asked Saint Peter for a profession of faith before promising him the Papacy 
(Mat. 16). A second confirmation: frequently the Fathers say that he who does not have faith cannot 
hold jurisdiction in the Church: Saint Cyprian (referred in the chapter “Novatianus”, 7, q. 1; Cap. 
Didicimus, 24, g. 1), Saint Ambrose (cap. Verbum, de Poenitentia, q. 1), Pope Saint Gelasius (c. 
Achatius, I) and Alexander II (Cap. Audivimus, 24, q. 1), Saint Augustine (epist. 48 ad Vincent.; lib. de 
Pastoribus), Saint Thomas (II-II, q. 39). A third confirmation, by way of a very simple argument: a 
heretic is not a member of the Church; in consequence, neither is he the head. Further: the heretic 
should not even be saluted, rather he should be absolutely avoided, as Saint Paul teaches (Tit., 3) also 
Saint John (II Epist); much less, therefore, ought he to be obeyed. Finally: the heretical Pontiff denies 
Christ and the true Church; consequently he denies himself and his charge; consequently he is for this 
same reason deprived of that charge” (3). 

b. The Reasons that Militate Against this Second Opinion are founded above all upon the 
visible character of the Church, in function of which it is impossible to admit the loss of jurisdiction for 
a reason which is unknowable and unverifiable by the faithful. Here is how Suarez develops his 
argumentation in respect to this: 

“The loss of faith for heresy which is merely internal does not cause the loss of the power of jurisdiction 
(...). This is proved in the first place by the fact that the government (ecclesiastical) would become 

(1) In this matter, as is evident, the arguments in favor of one opinion constitute in general objections to the 
others, and vice-versa. Such being the case, in the chapter dedicated to each opinion we set forth only the 
reasons pro and con which contain something new. 

In the present case it is not necessary to indicate the foundations of the thesis that the Pope can turn heretic, 
for they are enunciated in the objections raised up against the previous opinion (p. 148 ff). 

(2) In the last centuries, no author we have heard of defended this opinion. Among the ancients, its principal 
defender as Cardinal Torquemada (uncle of the inquisitor of the same name - see note 1 of page 1 81 ). 

(3) Suarez , De Fide , disp. X, sect. VI, no. 2, p. 316. 


very uncertain if the power depended on interior thoughts and sins. Another proof: given that the 
Church is visible, it is necessary that her governing power be in its way visible, dependent therefore on 
external actions, and not on mere mental cogitations. This is a reason a priori , for in such a case the 
Church does not take away the power through her human law, since it does not judge what is internal, as 
we shall say further on. And the power is not taken away either by virtue of mere divine law for this 
either is natural, that is to say, co-natural to the supernatural gifts themselves, or it is established by a 
positive determination. The first member of the dilemma cannot be accepted, for by the very nature of 
things it is impossible to demonstrate a necessary connection between the faith and the power of 
jurisdiction; and also because the power of orders is even more supernatural, but it is not lost, which 
constitutes a truth of faith, as is shown more amply in the treatise on the sacraments in general, and as 
Saint Thomas teaches (II-II, q, 39, a. 3). Therefore, while the faith is the foundation of sanctification 
and of the gifts that pertain to it, it is not however the foundation of the other powers and graces, which 
are conceded for the benefit of other men. The second member of the dilemma is eliminated with the 
simple observation that neither by Tradition nor by Scripture is it possible to demonstrate the existence 
of this divine positive law. Finally, it is consistent with reason that, just as ecclesiastical jurisdiction is 
only conferred by means of some human act - whether it be only designative, that is elective of the 
person, as in the case of the Supreme Pontiff, or be it the conferring of power, as in the other cases - 
neither should it be taken away except by means of some external action, for in both situations due 
proportion must be guarded, considering the condition and nature of man” (1). 

c. An Opinion Abandoned Today. As we have seen, this second opinion - of the loss of the 
Pontificate by merely internal heresy - is rooted in the thesis, today abandoned by the majority of the 
theologians, that even a heresy which is not exteriorized cause the loss of the condition of member of the 
Church (2). Among these two positions there does not exist, however, a necessary connection. Thus it 
is that Cardinal Joumet, while admitting that merely internal heresy excludes from the Church (3), 
inclines nevertheless toward the opinion that the Pope heretic is not ipso facto removed (4). Suarez also 
considered that the internal heretic ceased to be a member of the Church (5), but required a declaratory 
act for the heretical Pope to fall from the Seat of Peter (6). 

In more general terms, it is opportune to observe that though there exists an intimate connection 
between the exclusion from the Church and the loss of the Papacy, a great number of theologians do not 
judge nevertheless that the first determines ipso facto the second (7). 

It is understood, then, that the opinion according to which merely internal heresy determines the 
loss of the Pontificate, has been completely abandoned by the theologians. 

(1) Suarez , De Legibus, lib. IV, cap. VII, n 7, p. 360. 

(2) The divers positions of the theologians about the moment when the heretic ceases to be a member of the 
Church, can be seen in Salaverri , De Eccl. Christi, pp. 881-882. 

(3) See Journet , L’Eglise... vol. II, p. 575, note 3; 821, note 3; p. 1064 (where he cites a section of the Bull 
Ineffabilis Deus, of Pius IX) . 

(4) See Journet , L’Eglise..., vol, II, p. 821 , note 3. 

(5) See Salaverri , De Eccl. Christi, p. 881 . 

(6) See the text of Suarez which we cite on pages 161-1 64. 

(7) See the considerations of Suarez (pp. 1 61 -1 63) and Saint Robert Bellarmine (p. 1 69) over this point. 



The Third Opinion - Even Though He Falls into Notorious Heresy the Pope Never 

Loses the Pontificate 

This third opinion - which Saint Robert Bellarmine classifies as “very improbable” (1) - is defended by 
one sole theologian, among the 136 ancient and modern theologians whose position on this matter we could 
verify. We are speaking of the French canonist D. Bouix (+1870), who argues in the following terms (2): 

“There is not sufficient reason to think that Christ had determined that a heretical Pope could be deposed. The 
reason allegeable in favour of that deposition would be the enormous evil which would come upon the Church in 
case such a Pope were not deposed. Now this reason does not hold: for, on the one hand, a Pope heretic does not 
constitute an evil so great that it necessarily leads the Church to ruin and destruction (3); and, on the other hand, 
the deposition would be a remedy much worse than the evil itself (4). 

In the first place, therefore, we have said that the papal heresy of which we treat here does not constitute an evil so 
grave that it necessarily obliges one to think that Christ would desire the deposition of such a Pontiff. It is a 
question, in effect, of exclusively private (5) heresy, that is, professed by the Pontiff not as Pastor of the Church 
and in his papal decrees and acts, but only as a private doctor and just in his private speeches and writings. Now, 
as long as the Pope teaches the true faith whenever he defines or makes pronouncements as Pontiff, the faithful 
will be sufficiently safe, even though it be known, at the same time, that the Pope himself adheres privately to 
some heresy. All would easily understand that an opinion defended by the Pope as a private doctor would be 
destitute of authority, and that he should only be obeyed when he defined or imposed truths of faith officially and 
with the pontifical authority. If anyone, in spite of this insists that the private heresy of the Pope could be harmful 
to such a point that Christ would not be able to leave his Church without a remedy against so great an evil, (6) we 
respond that we also hold this opinion as being the most probable; but as a remedy we point to the special 
Providence of Christ so that the Pope not fall into heresy, not even as a private doctor. We deny absolutely, 
however, that Christ could have established as a remedy the deposition of the Pope. 

For - this is our second assertion - such a remedy would be worse than the evil itself. Indeed, one either supposes 
that this deposition would be carried out by Christ himself, as soon as the Pope were declared a heretic by a 
general council according to the doctrine of Suarez, or one supposes that it would be realized by virtue of the 
authority of the general council itself. Now, in both cases the evil would be aggravated, and not remedied. For 
the doctrine according to which Christ himself would depose the Pope heretic, as soon as the General Council 
declared him a heretic, is no more than an opinion, rejected by many, and with which it is licit, for anyone 
whatsoever, to disagree. Suarez himself judges this opinion less probable, in as much as he reputes it to be more 

(1) De Rom. Pont., lib. II, cap. 30, p. 418. 

(2) As will be seen by the pages which follow, Bouix judges it more probable that the Pope could not fall into heresy; 

but, admitted such a hypothesis, he maintains that the Pontiff would conserve his charge. - Note also that Bouix affirms explicitly that faced 
with a Pope heretic the faithful should not remain inert, but should resist his iniquitous decisions. (On the right of resistance, even public 
resistance, to the decisions of the ecclesiastical authority, see pp. 202 ff .). 

(3) Bouix argues here by way of hyperbole. No author at all has said that the Church would necessarily be brought “to ruin and destruction” 
if the Pope heretic conserves the pontificate. That which constitutes the common opinion - which Bouix seems to underestimate or even deny 
- is that the permanence of such a Pope in his charge would cause great evils for the Church and for the salvation of souls, for heresy 
“spreads like cancer” (II Tom. 2, 17 - see also the commentary of Suarez over this passage, cited by us at page 163) and, once eventually 
installed in the See of Peter, it would constitute “a danger for the faith (...) imminent and among all the gravest” ( Pietro Ballerini , text which we 
cite at page 169). 

(4) The Principal reason allegeable against the permanence of the Pope heretic in his charge is not the evil which would arise therefrom for 
the Church, but it is the incompatibility existing between heresy and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as we show in the pages 172-173. See also the 
expositions which Saint Robert Bellarmine (pp 168-169) and Pietro Ballerini (pp. 169-170) make in this respect. As for the affirmation that the 
loss of the pontificate by the Pope heretic would bring about greater evils than his permanence in his charge, see note 2 of page 162. 

(5) In this passage, Bouix does not consider all the possible hypotheses. He says it is a matter of heresy exclusively 

private, as long as the Pope does not err when he defines and imposes truths of faith. Now, there would be a third case to enumerate; And in 
these the possibility of errors and even of heresies is not excluded as such, as we show in the chapters IX and X of this Part I, in pages 188- 
201 , 

Therefore, the argument presented here by Bouix is not conclusive, since it is based on an inadequate division. 

(6) Note that Bouix tries here to refute the text of Suarez which we present on page 1 63. 


that there cannot be a Pope heretic, not even privately. Such being the case, even after it were declared 
by a General Council that a certain Pope were a heretic, it would absolutely not become certain that that 
Pope would be deposed; and in such a doubt one must rather continue to respect his authority (1). If 
another Pope were elected not only would he be of uncertain legitimacy, but he would even have to be 
branded as an intruder. Therefore, the remedy of a deposition made by Christ in the moment of a 
conciliar declaration, not only would not remedy the evil, but would create an evil much more grave, 
that is, a most intricate schism. Consequently, by no means should one think that Christ established 
such a remedy. But neither should one think that He established as a remedy deposition by the authority 
of a Council itself. For, the deposition of a Pope by a Council, besides being impossible (2), as will be 
said further on, would be followed by a worse evil if it were possible. In fact, the concession to a 
Council, by Christ, of such authority over a Pope heretic, is no more than a simple opinion most 
commonly rejected by Catholic doctors, and even intrinsically inadmissible, as is easily demonstrated. 
Then, after such deposition, it absolutely would not become certain that the heretical Pope would have 
been deprived of the pontifical primacy. He who would have been elected in his place would be 
branded by many as an intruder, and as such would be licitly rejected. This measure, therefore, would 
not bring a remedy, but rather a schism, confusion and dissension” (3). 

“It would be most harmful to the Church - Bouix writes further - if the Pope were deposed ipso facto 
for being a heretic. For this would be done either only when he were a notorious and public heretic, or 
also for occult external heresy, or even for internal heresy. If it were for public and notorious heresy, 
there would arise doubts as regards the degree of notoriety or infamy necessary for the Pontiff to be 
considered destituted of the Papacy (4). Thence would arise schisms and everything would become 
uncertain, the more so if, in spite of the alleged notoriety, the Pope were to conserve his charge by force 
or by any other means, and continued to exercise many acts of his office. If the destitution were made 
on the grounds of external but occult heresy there would arise even greater evils. For all the acts of such 
a Pontiff, occultly heretical, would be null and invalid, but this would only be known to a few persons. 
Such difficulty would be even greater, as is obvious if the Pope were deposed ipso facto on account of 
internal heresy (5). (...) 

Faith is not necessary for a man to be capable of ecclesiastical jurisdiction and that he might exercise 
true acts which require such jurisdiction. For in case of extreme necessity a heretical priest can absolve, 
as is taught in the treatises on penance and censures, however absolution requires and supposes 
jurisdiction. Moreover, the power of orders, which in its way is superior, can remain without faith, that 
is, with heresy; therefore ecclesiastical jurisdiction can do so too (...). 

To the texts in which some Fathers teach that he who has not faith cannot have jurisdiction in the 
Church, we answer: this ought to be understood in the sense that without faith ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
cannot be exercised appropriately, and in the sense that the heretic deserves to be deprived of 
jurisdiction; or some of these texts must be interpreted as determinations of Canon Law relative to the 
Bishops in particular, determinations which declare them to be deposed ipso facto (...). 

(1) Bouix is right when he affirms that, when there is doubt, one should continue to respect the authority of the Pope in all things that are not 
opposed to the principles of the Faith. For the loss of jurisdiction is only effected when it is demonstrated (melior est conditio possidentis). 

We believe however that the doubt to which Bouix alludes can be resolved today by the joint action of the theologians, for there are 
elements for them to reach a common opinion in this matter (see pp. 1 48 and 176). 

(2) In this point Bouix is undoubtedly altogether right, for a Council could only depose a Pope by its own authority if it were superior to him. 
And it is a dogma of the faith that a Council is not, in any circumstance, above the Pope. - On the non-conciliarist meaning of the term 
“deposition”, see note 3 or page 1 61 . 

(3) Bouix . Tract, de Papa , tom. II, pp. 670-671 . 

(4) It does not seem to us that Bouix is right here either. Many are the rights and obligations which are based on concrete facts whose 
complexity can furnish a margin for discussions. Nevertheless, for all that, one ought not deny, in principle, the existence of such rights and 

That which we said (pp. 141-142) about the necessity of a more profound study of the whole question of a Pope heretic holds in 
connection with the disagreement which could arise among the theologians over the case here analyzed by Bouix. 

(5) The argument of Bouix against the loss of the Pontificate by a Pope who is only occultly a heretic, or only internally a heretic, seems 
decisive to us. It is founded upon the visible character of the Church, as we observe on page 174. 

Note that the hypothesis of merely internal heresy corresponds to the second opinion enumerated by Saint Robert Bellarmine (see in the 
synoptic outline of p. 145, the position B-ll-l; and also pp. 156-157), while the hypothesis of external but occult heresy constitutes one of the 
subdivisions which we introduce in the fifth opinion of Saint Robert Bellarmine (see, in the synoptic outline of page 145, the observations at 
position B-ll-2; and further on p. 170). 


To the argument that, not being a member of the Church, the heretical Pope is not the head of the 
Church either, (...) one can give the following answer: I concede that the Pope heretic is not member 
and head of the Church in so far as the supernatural life which commences by faith and is completed by 
charity, by which all the members of the Church are united in one body supernaturally alive; but I deny 
that he might not be member and head of the Church as far as the governing power proper to his charge. 
Indeed, it is not absurd that Christ wishes that the Pope (the same might be said of a bishop in relation to 
the diocese), while he might not be part of this body supernaturally alive due to heresy, should 
nevertheless still conserve the power of governing the Church, exactly as if he had not lost the 
supernatural life mentioned above (1). As far as the power of orders, there is no doubt that Christ did 
not wish that either heretical priests or bishops be deprived of it, although by reason of heresy they have 
already ceased to be member of the Church, in the sense indicated. Now, the permanence of jurisdiction 
in a Bishop would not be more absurd than in a Pope heretic, whether the heresy be only internal, or 
even external” (2). 

Bouix thus expresses, in a summary formula, his thinking on the matter: 

“(...) if the case of a Pope privately a heretic were possible, one must judge that in spite of this Christ 
desired that this Pope conserve the supreme authority, and that in no way might he be deprived of that 
authority by a General Council” (3). 

And immediately thereafter he declares, in terms perhaps even more incisive: 

“(...) as to Suarez and to many others, it appears MORE PROBABLE to me that the Pope, even as a 
private person, cannot fall into heresy. But on the hypothesis that he could turn privately heretic, I 
WOULD DENY IN AN ABSOLUTE WAY that he would be deposed ipso facto , or that he could be 
deposed by any Council” (4). 

* * 

Despite the great efforts expended by Bouix in defense of this third opinion, it seems to us that 
one ought to qualify it, with Saint Robert Bellarmine, as “very improbable”. Indeed, it has against it the 
practically unanimous Tradition of the Church (5); it does not agree with numerous texts of the Sacred 
Scripture; it does not seem to give due importance to the extreme evil which a Pope heretic could do to 
the Church; and it is so much a minority opinion among the theologians, that Cardinal Camillo 
Mazzella, S. J., goes so far as to affirm that no author of those who admit the possibility of a Pope 
heretic, denies or puts in doubt that he would be removed from his charge ipso facto, or at least must be 
removed (6). 

(1) It does not appear to us that Bouix gives here the due importance to the principle that heresy brings about 
ipso facto the loss, at least in radice (in its root) of any ecclesiastical jurisdiction whatsoever. We set out this 
principle on pages 172 ft. 

(2) Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tom. II, pp. 660-662. 

(3) Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 666. 

(4) Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 666. The capitals are ours. 

(5) We remind the reader that, of 1 36 authors whom we consulted, only Bouix defends this opinion (see p. 1 58). 

(6) Card. Camillo Mazzella . De Relig. et EccL, p. 817. 

In the same sense, wrote Cardinal Billot : “once this is supposed (that a Pope had turned heretic), all concede that 
the bond of communion and subjection (in relation to the Pope) would be dissolved, with foundation in the divine 
dispositions which order expressly that heretics be avoided: Tit. Ill, 10; II Jo. 10; etc.” (Tract, de Ecci. Christi, 
tom. I, p. 615). - See also R. de M ., Inst. Juris Can., vol. I, p. 265. 



Fourth Opinion - The Pope Heretic Only Effectively Loses the Pontificate upon the 
Intervention of an Act Declaratory of His Heresy 

According to this fourth opinion, the Pope never loses the Pontificate by the very act of his fall 
into heresy. Rather, for his destitution to be effective, it is necessary that there be an act declaratory of 
his defection in the faith. As is obvious, such a declaration cannot be a juridical decision in the strict 
sense, given that the Pope does not have on Earth a superior who judges him (1): but it will be a mere 
non-juridical declaration, on account of which Jesus Christ himself will depose the Pope. 

The principal followers of this fourth opinion are Cajetan and Suarez (2). 

1. Defense of this Opinion by Suarez 

After refuting the opinion according to which the Pope heretic is automatically “deposed” (3), 

Suarez defends his position in the following terms: 

“(...) in no case, even that of heresy, is the Pontiff deprived of his dignity and of his power immediately 
by God himself, before the judgement and sentence of man. This is the common opinion today: Cajetan 
(de Auctoritate Papae, c. 18 et 19); Soto (4, d. 22, quaest. 2, art. 2); Cano (4 de Locis, c. ult. ad 12); 
Corduba (lib. 4, q. 11). Later, on treating the penalties of the heretics, we will indicate still other authors, 
and in a general manner show that by divine law no one is deprived of dignity and ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction because of the crime of heresy. Now we will give an a prior argument: since such a 
destitution is a most grave penalty, one would only incur it ipso facto if it were expressed in the divine 
law; however we do not find any law which establishes this, either in general as far as the heretics are 
concerned, or in particular as to the Bishops, nor in a very particular way as far as the Pope is concerned 
(4). Neither is there a certain Tradition over this matter. Nor can the Pope lose his dignity ipso facto by 
virtue of a human law, for this law would have to be established by an inferior, that is, by a Council, or 
by an equal, that is, by a previous Pope; but neither a Council nor a previous Pope posses such a 
coercive power as to be able to punish their equal or superior. Therefore, etc. 

(...) You will say that there could be a law interpreting divine law. But this would be without 
foundation for you do not quote any such divine law; furthermore, up to now there has not been laid 
down by the Councils or by the Popes any law which had interpreted such a divine law. 

(1) Therefore, this fourth opinion is absolutely not the same as conciliarism - a theory condemned as heretical, according to which the 
Council would be superior to the Pope, being able therefore to judge him and depose him. 

Among the possible solutions to the question of a Pope heretic, we do not study the conciliarist opinion because, while it had many 
followers in the past, it is nevertheless manifestly inacceptable by Catholics, above all after the definitions of the First Council of the Vatican. 

(2) We reemphasize that Suarez is a partisan of the first sentence, defending this fourth only in the hypothesis - which he judges less 
probable - that the Pontiff could fall into heresy (see the text which we cite on p. 148) - Cajetan . on the contrary, admits positively the 
possibility of the defection of the Pope in the faith (De Comparatione..., pp. 112 ff .), as was moreover a common opinion in his time. 

(3) The employment of the term “deposition” in a different sense than the common one has already become classical in this matter. For 

example, the aphorisms Papa haereticus est depositus (the Pope heretic is deposed”) and Papa haereticus non est depositus sed 
deponendus (“the Pope heretic is not deposed, but must be deposed”) are common place - aphorisms, these, which express respectively the 
thesis of the automatic loss of the Papacy and of the loss after the declaration (see explanation in Journet . L'Eglise..., vol. 1 , p. 626). 

As is evident, in this theological context the term “deposition” cannot be understood in its vulgar sense, for thus one would fall into 

conciliarism, that is, admitting that some human power - normally the Council - could take away from the Pontiff his charge. 

In the above mentioned aphorisms and in the orthodox authors who speak of “deposition” in this theological context, the word indicates 

only the loss of the Papacy. That is what will be seen in the text of Suarez which we cite in the following. 

It seems to us that in our days it would be convenient to eliminate the term “deposition” from the debates about the matter, since in the 
civil plane it indicates exclusively the act whereby someone removes someone else from a charge. In this form we would defend more 
comfortably the traditional thesis against the neoconciliarists who are nowadays reappearing around us. 

(4) This affirmation of Suarez does not appear to have a foundation. For Saint Paul (Tit. 3, 10) and Saint John (II John 10-11) command us 
to avoid the heretics. Now - asks Saint Robert Bellarmine when he answers Suarez - “how would we be obliged to avoid our own head? 
Flow can we separate ourselves from a member united to us?” (we cite this text integrally on p. 1 64). 


This is confirmed by the fact that such a law would be harmful to the Church; by no means, then, would 
one be able to believe that it had been instituted by Christ; the foregoing is proved: if the Pope were an 
occult heretic, and for this reason would have fallen ipso facto from his charge, all his acts would be 
invalid. You will say that at least this argument proves nothing as far as a notorious and public heretic is 
concerned. But this is not true, for if the external but occult heretic still can be the true Pope, with equal 
right he can continue to be so in the event that the offense became known, as long as sentence were not 
passed on him. And that, both because no one suffers a penalty if it is not ipso facto or by sentence (1) 
and because in this way would arise even greater evils. In effect, there would arise doubt about the 
degree of infamy necessary for him to lose his charge; there would rise schisms because of this, and 
everything would become uncertain, above all if, after being known as a heretic, the Pope should have 
maintained himself in possession of his charge by force or by other means, and should have exercised 
many acts of his office (2). 

A second confirmation, which is of great importance: in case the heresy of the Pope turned external, but 
occult, and after that he turned back with true repentance, he would be placed in a situation of total 
perplexity: if he lost the charge by reason of heresy, he ought absolutely to abandon the pontificate, 
which is most serious and almost contrary to natural law, for it is to denounce oneself; but he could not 
retain the episcopate, for this would be intrinsically evil. This being the case, even the defenders of the 
contrary opinion confess that in this case it would be licit to conserve the episcopacy, and that he would 
therefore be the true Pope; this is the common opinion of the canonists, and that of the Gloss (c. Nuno 
autem, d. 21). From thence one infers an evident argument against them, for granted that the pontifical 
charge is not restored by God through penance, as grace is restored, for it is unheard of that he who is 
not the true Pope be made Pope by God without the election and ministry of men (3). 

Finally, the faith is not absolutely necessary in order that a man be capable of spiritual and ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction and be able to exercise true acts which demand this jurisdiction; then, etc. The foregoing is 
obvious, granted that, as is taught in the treatises on penance and censures, in case of extreme necessity 
a priest heretic may absolve, which is not possible without jurisdiction. (4). 

(...) The Pope heretic is not a member of the Church as far as the substance and form which constitute 
the members of the Church; but he is the head as far as the charge and action; and this is not surprising, 
since he is not the primary and principal head who acts by his own power, but is as it were instrumental, 
he is the vicar of the principal head, who is able to exercise his spiritual action over the members even 
by means of a head of bronze; analogously, he baptizes at times by means of heretics, at times he 
absolves, etc., as we have already said. 

(1) The dilemma presented here by Suarez is without doubt valid, since evidently no one suffers a penalty, if not ipso facto or 
by sentence. Nevertheless, Suarez doesn’t appear to perceive that, according to the fifth opinion there is a fact which carries 
as a consequence the automatic loss of the Papacy, that fact being a complex offense , for it involves, in addition to occult 
heresy its public manifestation. 

(2) As we see, the opinion attacked here by Suarez is the fifth enunciated by Saint Robert Bellarmine , and is the one to which 
the latter adheres (see also the synoptic outline of page 145, position B-ll, 2) and pp. 168 ff). 

It is unquestionable that the concrete application of this opinion in the eventual case of a Pope heretic could occasion the 
gravest confusions and afflictions for the Church. It seems to us nevertheless, that supposing the hypothesis of a Pope 
heretic, these confusions and afflictions would follow ineluctably, whatever be the sentence of the theologians which one had 
adopted. Considering things only from the point of view of the schisms, the confusions and the rivalries which could arise, we 
do not see how to prefer one of the opinions to the rest. We shall take as an example only the position of Suarez: What 
divisions could not arise if some cardinals and bishops declared the Pope a heretic, while others supported him! 

We believe however that the point of view from which the question ought to be focused is not this. It is not a question 
fundamentally, of asking which is the solution which would conserve “peace” better, but rather asking which would conserve 
the faith better, and which would be more in accord with the divine institution of the Church. And from this point of view, as we 
will say further on (pp. 172 ff.), we judge that there are solid reasons to embrace, with Saint Robert Bellarmine . Wernz-Vidal 
and others, the fifth opinion. 

(3) Today, the thesis according to which he who is not the true Pope can be “made Pope by God without the election and 
ministry of men” does not sound so bad, to the ears of many theologians. For Saint Alphonse de Liguori admits, in principle, 
such an eventuality. He teaches that a Pope intruder would become a true Pope when he were peacefully accepted by the 
Church universally. This is a little known and extremely delicate point of doctrine which we analyze in pages 185 ff. 

(4) See on pp. 172-173 the observations which we make on the in radice (in the root), but not absolute incompatibility, which 
exists between heresy and ecclesiastical jurisdictions. 


(...) I affirm: If he is a heretic and incorrigible, the Pope ceases to be Pope as soon as a declared 
sentence of his crime is pronounced against him by the legitimate jurisdiction of the Church. This is the 
common position held by the doctors, and can be concluded from the first Epistle of Pope St. Clement I, 
in which one reads that St. Peter taught that the heretic Pope should be deposed. The reason is the 
following: It would be extremely harmful to the Church to have such a pastor and not be able to defend 
herself from such a grave danger; furthermore it would go against the dignity of the Church to oblige her 
to remain subject to a heretic Pontiff without being able to expel him from herself; for such as are the 
prince and the priest, so the people are accustomed to be; this is confirmed by the reasons adduced in 
favor of the previous opinion (that of deposition ipso facto), above all when it says that the heresy 
“spreads like cancer,” which is why heretics should be avoided as much as possible. This is, therefore, 
all the more so with regard to the heretic pastor; but how can such a situation be avoided, except if he 
ceases to be the pastor? 

(. . .) With regard to this conclusion, some explanations should be made. 

In the first place , who should pronounce such a sentence? Some say that it should be the Cardinals; and 
the Church could undoubtedly assign them this faculty, above all if it were established with the consent 
and decision of the Supreme Pontiffs, as it was done for the election. But until today, we do not read 
anywhere that such a judgment has been confided to them. For this reason, it must be affirmed that, of 
itself, it belongs to all the Bishops of the Church. For since they are the ordinary pastors and the pillars 
of the Church, one should consider that such a case concerns them. And since by divine law there is no 
greater reason to affirm that the matter interests more these Bishops than those, and since by human law 
there is nothing established in the matter, it must necessarily be sustained that the matter should be 
referred to all of them, and even to the general Council. This is the common opinion of the doctors. One 
can see that Cardinal Albano expounds upon this point at length ( De Cardinalibus, q. 35, 1584 ed., vol. 
13, p. 2). 

Second doubt : How can such a Council be called together legitimately since it is the Pope who lawfully 
should convoke it. One answers, in the first place, that perhaps it would not be necessary for a general 
council as such to meet, but it might be enough if in each region there met provincial or national 
Councils, convoked by the Archbishops or Primates, and that all arrived at the same conclusion. In the 
second place, if a general Council meets to define matters of faith or to lay down universal laws, it can 
only legitimately be convoked by the Pope. But if it meets to deal with the matter of which we speak, 
which especially concerns the Pontiff himself and is in some way opposed to him, the Council can 
legitimately be convoked either by the College of Cardinals or by the agreement of the Bishops; and if 
the Pontiff tries to prevent such a meeting, they should not obey him because, acting against justice and 
the common good, he would be abusing his supreme power. 


(...) From this arises a third doubt : by what right could the pope be judged by the assembly, being 
superior to it? (1). In this matter Cajetan makes extraordinary efforts to avoid seeing himself forced to 
admit that the Church or a Council are above the Pope in case of heresy; he concludes in the end that the 
Church and the Council are superior to the Pope, not as Pope, but as a private person. This distinction 
however does not satisfy, for with the same argument one would be able to say it belongs to the Church 
to judge or to punish the Pope, not as Pope, but as a private person (...). 

Others affirm that, in case of heresy, the Church is superior to the Pope. But this is difficult to admit for 
Christ constituted the Pope as the absolutely supreme judge; the canons also affirm this principle in a 
general way and without distinctions; and finally the Church cannot exercise any act of jurisdiction over 
the Pope, and on electing him does not confer the power upon him, but designates the person upon 
whom Christ directly confers the power. 

Therefore on deposing a heretical Pope, the Church would not act as superior to him, but juridically, and 
by the consent of Christ, she would declare him a heretic and therefore unworthy of Pontifical honors 
(2); he would be then ipso facto (3) and immediately deposed by Christ, and once deposed he would 
become inferior and would be able to be punished” (4). 

2. Refutation of this Opinion by Saint Robert Bellarmine 

Saint Robert Bellarmine, who did not approve this fourth opinion, refutes it thus (5): 

“The fourth opinion is that of Cajetan, for whom ( de auctor, papae et cone., cap. 20 et 21) the 
manifestly heretical Pope is not ipso facto deposed (6), but can and must be deposed by the Church. To 
my judgement, this opinion cannot be defended. For, in the first place, it is proven with arguments from 
authority and from reason that the manifest heretic is ipso facto deposed, The argument for authority is 
based on Saint Paul (Epist. ad Titum, 3), who orders that the heretic be avoided after two warnings, that 
is, after showing himself to be manifestly obstinate - which means before any excommunication or 
judicial sentence. And this is what Saint Jerome writes, adding that the other sinners are excluded from 
the Church by sentence of excommunication, but the heretics exile themselves and separate themselves 
on their own from the body of Christ. Now, a Pope who remains Pope cannot be avoided, for how could 
we be required to avoid our own head? How can we separate ourselves from a member united to us? 
This principle is most certain. The non-Christian cannot by any means be Pope, as Cajetan himself 
admits (ibidem, cap. 26). The reason for this is that he cannot be head of what he is not a member; now 

(1) Here is the principal objection which can be raised against this fourth opinion. As Suarez demonstrates, Cajetan does not 
meet it successfully. It seems to us that the solution presented by Suarez is not satisfactory either, as we will say further on 

(2) Behold the central point - that which appears weak to us - of the argumentation of Suarez. He admits that the Council, 
while inferior to the Pope, would be able nevertheless to “juridically” declare him a heretic and destitute of his charge. Things 
being so, the Council would be, in the true sense, judging the Pope - and one cannot admit that this faculty belongs to it, not 
even in the case of heresy in the person of the Pontiff. It is not enough to say that the Council would not depose the Pope, but 
would only judge him and Christ would depose him - for even this power to judge a Pope does not exist. 

Note, on the other hand, that the juridical declaration defended by the fourth opinion has nothing to do with a non-iuridical 
declaration, which would be able to be made by the Council or by anyone of the faithful, before or after the loss of the 
Pontificate by the Pope heretic. Such a declaration even though previous to the effective loss of the charge, would not be an 
official juridical act by reason of which the destitution would take place; but it would only seek to warn Catholic opinion against 
the heresy of the chief of the Church. Such a non-iuridical declaration is admitted as legitimate by all the authors (see chapter 
XI, pp. 202 ff). 

(3) One must not confuse the deposition ipso facto which characterizes the fifth sentence, with this to which Suarez refers 
here. Here the “fact” is the declaration of the heresy of the Pope; there, the “fact” is the manifest heresy itself. 

(4) Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, nn. 3-1 0, pp. 31 6-31 8. 

(5) In the text cited immediately below, Saint Robert Bellarmine presents and refutes the principal reasons alleged by 
Cajetan in defense of this fourth opinion. To the reader who wishes to know in more detail the position of Cajetan on the 
question of a Pope heretic, we point out his works De Comparatione Auctoritatis Papae et Concilii and Apologia de Comparata 
Auctoritate Papae et Concilii. 

(6) We recall again that the term “deposition” is employed by Saint Robert Bellarmine in the generic sense of the loss of the 
papacy, and not in the current acceptation, of an act by which a human power deprives someone of a charge. See note 3 of 
page 161. 


who is not a Christian is not a member of the Church, and a manifest heretic is not a Christian, as is 
clearly taught by Saint Cyprian (lib. 4, epist. 2), Saint Athanasius (Ser. 2 cont. Arian.), Saint Augustine 
(lib. de grat. Christ, cap. 20), Saint Jerome (cont. Lucifer.) and others; therefore the manifest heretic 
cannot be Pope. 

To this Cajetan responds (in Apol. pro tract. Praedicto cap. 25 et in ipso tract, cap. 22) that the heretic is 
not a Christian simpliciter, but is one secundum quid. For, granted that two things constitute the 
Christian - the faith and the character - the heretic, having lost the faith, is still in some way united to 
the Church and is capable of jurisdiction; therefore, is also Pope, but ought to be removed, since he is 
disposed, with ultimate disposition to cease to be Pope; as the man who is still not dead but is in 

Against this; in the first place, if the heretic, by virtue of the character, would remain, in actu, united to 
the Church, he would never be able to be cut or separated from her in actu, for the character is indelible. 
But there is no one who denies that some people may be separated in actu from the Church. Therefore, 
the character does not make the heretic be in actu in the Church, but is only a sign that he was in the 
Church and that he must return to her. Analogously, when the sheep wander lost in the mountains, the 
mark impressed on it does not make it be in the fold, but indicates from which fold it had fled and to 
which fold it ought to be led back. This truth has a confirmation in Saint Thomas who says (Summa Th. 
Ill, 8, 3) that those who do not have faith are not united in actu to Christ, but only potentially - and Saint 
Thomas here refers to the internal union, and not to the external which is produced by the confession of 
faith and visible signs. Therefore, as the character is something internal, and not external, according to 
Saint Thomas the mere character does not unite a man, in actu, to Christ. 

Further against the argument of Cajetan; either faith is a disposition necessary simpliciter for someone to 
be Pope, or it is only necessary for someone to be Pope more perfectly (ad bene esse). In the first 
hypothesis, in case this disposition be eliminated by the contrary disposition, which is heresy, the Pope 
immediately ceases to be Pope; for the form cannot maintain itself without the necessary dispositions. 
In the second hypothesis, the Pope cannot be deposed by reason of heresy, for otherwise he would also 
have to be deposed for ignorance, improbity, and other similar causes, which impede the science, the 
probity and the other dispositions necessary for him to be Pope in a more perfect way (ad bene esse 
papae). In addition to this, Cajetan recognizes (tract, praed., ca. 26) that the Pope cannot be deposed for 
the lack of the dispositions necessary, not simpliciter, but only for greater perfection (ad bene esse). 

To this, Cajetan responds that faith is a disposition necessary simpliciter, but partial, and not total; and 
that, therefore, the faith disappearing the Pope can still continue being Pope, by reason of the other part 
of the disposition, which is the character, which still endures. 


Against this argument: either the total disposition, constituted by the character and by faith, is necessary 
simpliciter, or it is not, the partial disposition then being sufficient. In the first hypothesis, the faith 
disappearing there no longer remains the disposition simpliciter necessary, for the disposition simpliciter 
necessary was the total, and the total no longer exists. In the second hypothesis, the faith is only 
necessary for a more perfect manner of being (ad bene esse), and therefore its absence does not justify 
the deposition of the Pope. In addition to this, what finds itself in the ultimate disposition to death, 
immediately thereafter ceases to exist, without the intervention of any other external force, as is obvious; 
therefore, also the Pope heretic ceases to be Pope by himself, without any deposition. 

Finally, the Holy Fathers teach unanimously not only that heretics are outside of the Church, but also 
that they are ipso facto deprived of all ecclesiastical jurisdiction and dignity. Saint Cyprian (lib. 2, epist. 
6) says: “we affirm that absolutely no heretic or schismatic has any power or right”: and he also teaches 
(lib. 2, epist. 1) that the heretics who return to the Church must be received as layman, even though they 
have been formerly priests or bishops in the Church. Saint Optatus (lib. 1 cont. Parmen .) teaches that 
heretics and schismatics cannot have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, nor bind nor loose. Saint 
Ambrose (lib. 1 de poenit., ca. 2), Saint Augustine (in Enchir., cap. 65), Saint Jerome (lib. cont. Lucifer.) 
teach the same (...). 

Pope Saint Celestine I (epist. ad Jo. Antioch., which appears in Cone. Ephis., tom. I, cap. 19) wrote: “It 
is evident that he has remained and remains in communion with us, and that we do not consider 
destitute, anyone who has been excommunicated or deprived of his charge, either episcopal or clerical, 
by the Bishop Nestorius or by the others who followed him, after these latter commenced preaching 
heresy. For the sentence of him who has already revealed himself as one who must be deposed, can 
depose no one”. 

And in a letter to the Clergy of Constantinople, Pope Saint Celestine I says: “the authority of our 
Apostolic See has determined that the Bishop, cleric or simple Christian who had been deposed or 
excommunicated by Nestorius or his followers, after the latter began to preach heresy shall not be 
considered deposed or excommunicated. For he who had defected from the faith with such preachings, 
cannot depose or remove anyone whatsoever”. 

Saint Nicolas I (Epist. ad Michael) repeats and confirms the same. Finally, Saint Thomas also teaches 
(S. Theol., II-II, 39, 3) that schismatics immediately lose all jurisdiction, and that anything they try to do 
on the basis of any jurisdiction will be null. 

There is no basis for that which some respond to this: that these Fathers based themselves on ancient 
law, while nowadays, by decree of the Council of Constance, they alone lose their jurisdiction who are 
excommunicated by name or who assault clerics. This argument, I say has no value at all, for those 
Fathers, in affirming that heretics lose jurisdiction, did not cite any human law, which furthermore 
perhaps did not exist in relation to the matter, but argued on the basis of the very 


nature of heresy. The Council of Constance only deals with the excommunicated, that is, those who 
have lost jurisdiction by sentence of the Church, while heretics already before being excommunicated 
are outside the Church and deprived of all jurisdiction. For they have already been condemned by their 
own sentence, as the Apostle teaches (Tit. 3, 10-11), that is they have been out from the body of the 
Church without excommunication, as Saint Jerome explains (1). 

Besides that, the second affirmation of Cajetan, that the Pope heretic can be truly and authoritatively 
deposed by the Church, is no less false than the first. For if the Church deposes the Pope against his will 
it is certainly above the Pope; however, Cajetan himself defends, in the same treatise, the contrary of 
this. Cajetan responds that the Church, in deposing the Pope, does not have authority over the Pope, but 
only over the link that unites the person to the Pontificate. In the same way that the Church in uniting 
the Pontificate to such a person, is not because of this above the Pontiff, so also the Church can separate 
the Pontificate from such a person in case of heresy, without saying it be above the Pope. 

But contrary to this it must be observed in the first place that, from the fact that the Pope deposes 
Bishops, it is deduced that the Pope is above all the Bishops, though the Pope on deposing a Bishop does 
not destroy the episcopal jurisdiction, but only separates it from that person. In the second place, to 
depose anyone from the Pontificate against the will of the deposed, is without doubt a penalty; then, the 
Church, on deposing a Pope against his will, is without doubt punishing him; however, to punish is 
proper to a superior or to a judge. In the third place, given that according to Cajetan and the other 
Thomists, in reality the whole and the parts taken as a whole are the same thing, he who has authority 
over the parts taken as a whole, being able to separate them one from another, has also authority over the 
whole itself which is constituted by those parts. 

The example of the electors, who have the power to designate a certain person for the Pontificate, 
without having however power over the Pope, given by Cajetan, is also destitute of value. For when 
something is being made, the action is exercised over the matter of the future thing, and not over the 
composite, which still does not exist, but when a thing is being destroyed, the action is exercised over 
the composite, as becomes patent on consideration of the things of nature. Therefore, on creating the 
Pontiff, the Cardinals do not exercise their authority over the Pontiff for this still does not exist, but over 
the matter, that is, over the person who by the election becomes disposed to receive the Pontificate from 
God. But if they deposed the Pontiff, they would necessarily exercise authority over the composite, that 
is, over the person endowed with the pontifical power, that is over the Pontiff’ (2). 

(1) According to present-day Canon Law, there is no deposition latae sententiae ; therefore heretic Bishops and 
priests continue occupying their charges and enjoying jurisdiction until they are deposed by their superiors (see 
note 5 of page 162). Would such a determination by contrary to the principles which Saint Robert Bellarmine 
expounds in the passage cited here? 

In part yes, for he does not admit in any way the permanence in jurisdiction of a manifest heretic. However, if 
we consider that the Pope can sustain , for the sake of the good of the Church, the jurisdiction in a heretic (see pp. 
173-174), and if we see that the holder of jurisdiction loses it, in radice (in its roots) by the very fact of his fall into 
heresy (see pp. 172-173), we verify that the affirmation of Saint Robert Bellarmine continue entirely defensible as 
long as the nuances in these two points are preserved> 

For a perfect comprehension of what has just been said, it is necessary to keep in mind what we observe in 
Chapter VII of this Part II (pp. 172 ff.) 

(2) Saint Robert Bellarmine . De Rom. Pont., lib. II, cap. 30, pp. 418-420. 



Fifth Opinion - Falling into Manifest Heresy, the Pope Loses the Pontificate 

Ipso Facto 

This opinion is defended by numerous renowned theologians, such as Saint Robert Bellarmine, Sylvius, 
Pietro Ballerini, Wernz-Vidal, Cardinal Billot (1). 

1. Defense of this Opinion by Saint Robert Bellarmine 

After refuting the other opinions in this matter, Saint Robert Bellarmine expounds his position in 
the following terms: 

“Therefore, the true opinion is the fifth, according to which the Pope manifestly a heretic ceases by 
himself to be Pope and head, in the same way as he ceases to be a Christian and a member of the body of 
the Church; and for this reason he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the opinion of all 
the ancient Fathers, who teach that manifest heretics lose immediately all jurisdiction, and outstandingly 
that of Saint Cyprian (lib. 4 epist. 2) who refers like this to Novatian, who was Pope (anti-pope) in the 
schism which occurred during Pontificate of Saint Cornelius: “He would not be able to retain the 
Episcopate, and, if he was made Bishop before, he separated himself from the body of those who were 
like him Bishops and from the unity of the Church.” According to what Saint Cyprian affirms in this 
passage, even though Novation had been truly the legitimate Pope, he would have however 
automatically fallen from the Pontificate in case he had separated himself from the Church. 

This is the opinion of great recent doctors, as John Driedo (lib. 4 de Script, et dogmat. Eccles. Cap. 2, 
par. 2, sent. 2), who teaches that they only separate themselves from the Church who are expelled, like 
the excommunicated, and those who by themselves depart from her or oppose her, as heretics and 
schismatics. And in his seventh affirmation, he sustains that in those who turn away from the Church, 
there remains absolutely no spiritual power over those who are in the Church. Melchior Cano says the 
same (lib. 4 de loc., cap. 2), teaching that heretics are neither parts nor members of the Church, and that 
it cannot even be conceived that anyone be head and Pope, without being member and part (cap. ult. ad 
argument. 12). And he teaches in the same place, with plain words, that occult heretics are still of the 
Church, they are parts and members, and that therefore the Pope who is an occult heretic is still Pope. 
This is also the opinion of the other authors whom we cite in book I De Eccles. 

(1) Saint Robert Bellarmine : text which we cite below; Sylvius; ad II II, q. 39, a. 1; Pietro Ballerini: text which we 
cite on pp. 169-170; Wernz-Vidal : lus-Can., tom. II, pp. 433 ft.; Billot : text which we cite at page 146. 


The foundation of this argument is that the manifest heretic is not in any way a member of the Church, 
that is, neither spiritually nor corporally, which signifies that he is not such by internal union nor by 
external union. For even bad Catholics are united and are members, spiritually by faith, corporally by 
confession of faith and by participation in the visible sacraments; the occult heretics are united and are 
members although only by external union; on the contrary, the good catechumens belong to the Church 
only by an internal union, not by the external; but manifest heretics do not pertain in any manner, as we 
have already proved” (1). 

2. Defense of this Opinion by Father Pietro Ballerini 

The explanation, which Father Pietro Ballerini, eminent Italian theologian of the XVIIIth 
Century, another defender of this fifth opinion, gives for his position seems very enlightening to us. 
After observing that the Council would only be able to pass sentence over a Pope heretic if he were 
already deposed, Father Ballerini ponders: 

“A peril for the faith so imminent and among all the most grave, as this of a Pontiff who, even only 
privately, defended heresy, would not be able to be supported for long. Why, then, expect the remedy to 
come from a General Council, whose convocation is not easy? Is it not true that, confronted with such a 
danger for the faith, any subjects can by fraternal correction warn their superior, resist him to his face, 
refute him and, if necessary, summon him and press him to repent? The Cardinals, who are his 
counselors, can do this; or the Roman Clergy, or the Roman Synod, if, being met, they judge this 
opportune. For any person, even a private person, the words of Saint Paul to Titus hold: “Avoid the 
heretic, after a first and second correction, knowing that such a man is perverted and sins, since he is 
condemned by his own judgement” (Tit. 3, 10-11). For the person who, admonished once or twice, does 
not repent, but continues pertinacious in an opinion contrary to a manifest or public dogma - not being 
able, on account of this public pertinacity to be excused, by any means, of heresy properly so called, 
which requires pertinacity - this person declares himself openly a heretic. He reveals that by his own 
will he has turned away from the Catholic Faith and the Church, in such form that now no declaration or 
sentence of any one whatsoever is necessary to cut him from the body of the Church. In this matter the 
argument given by Saint Jerome in connection with the cited words of Saint Paul is very clear: 
“Therefore it is said that the heretic has condemned himself; for the fornicator, the adulterer, the 
murderer and the other sinners are expelled from the Church by the priests; but the heretics pronounce 
sentence against themselves, excluding themselves from the Church spontaneously; this exclusion which 
is their condemnation by their own conscience”. Therefore the Pontiff who after such a solemn and 
public warning by the Cardinals, by 

(1) Saint Robert Bellarmine . De Rom. Pont., lib. II, cap. 30, p. 420. 


the Roman Clergy or even by a Synod, maintained himself hardened in heresy and openly turned 
himself away from the Church, would have to be avoided, according to the precepts of Saint Paul. So 
that he might not cause damage to the rest, he would have to have his heresy and contumacy publicly 
proclaimed, so that all might be able to be equally on guard in relation to him. Thus, the sentence which 
he had pronounced against himself would be made known to all the Church, making clear that by his 
own will he had turned away and separated himself from the body of the Church, and that in a certain 
way he had abdicated the Pontificate, which no one holds or can hold if he does not belong to the 
Church. One sees then that in the case of a heresy, to which the Pontiff adhered privately, there would 
be an immediate and efficacious remedy, without the convocation of the General Council: for in this 
hypothesis whatever would be done against him before the declaration of his contumacy and heresy, in 
order to call him to reason, would constitute an obligation of charity, not of jurisdiction; and if, after his 
turning away from the Church had been made manifest, there was a sentence passed on him by the 
Council, such a sentence would be pronounced against one who was no longer Pope nor superior to the 
Council” (1). 

3. Subdivision of this Fifth Opinion 

We think that this fifth opinion ought to be subdivided into three (2). 

1. Some authors affirm that the Pope loses the Pontificate ipso facto in the moment in which he 
exteriorizes his heresy. 

2. Others maintain that that loss occurs when the heresy becomes known to a certain number of persons , 
even though small. 

3. Others, finally, judge that the heretical Pope only falls from the Roman See when his heresy turns 
“ notorious and publicly divulged ” (3). 

* * * 

This divergence is connected to a dispute of many centuries duration, which still divides 
theologians today, over the exact moment when a heretic ceases to be a member of the Church (4). We 
do not judge it necessary to expound here, in detail, the peculiarities of the subdivisions of this fifth 
opinion. It did not seem indispensable to us, moreover, to indicate in a precise way the position of every 
holder of this opinion - all the more so since many of them are not clear in this respect. We will make 
only brief observations about the thinking of Saint Robert Bellarmine and Wemz-Vidal. 

* * 

Salvo meliori judicio, it seems to us that Saint Robert Bellarmine did not leave sufficiently clear 
his thesis about the moment in which the Pope heretic would ipso facto lose the Pontificate. 

(1) Pietro Ballerini , De Potestate Ecclesiastics..., pp. 104-105. 

(2) We indicate this subdivision in the observation at position B-ll-2 of the synoptic outline of page 145. Suarez , 
for example alludes to this threefold subdivision in De Leg., lib. IV, cap. VII, n. 6, p. 360. 

(3) Notoria et palam divulgate - The expression is of Wernz-Vidal : lus Can., vol. II, p. 433. 

(4) As we have already observed, there does not exist however an absolute correspondence between the 
position assumed by each author in regard to the moment in which the heretic is excluded from the Church, and 
his opinion about the question of a Pope heretic: see pp. 156-157. 


He says that this would take place when the heresy turned “manifest”; and he opposes to the 
concept of “manifest” that of “occult” (1). Now, occult heresy can be internal (occult per se ), as it can 
be external unknown by another person (occult per accidens). If one attributes to Saint Robert 
Bellarmine the first of these interpretations, the Pope would lose the Pontificate in the moment in which 
he exteriorized his heresy, even though no one perceived it. If one attributes to him the second 
interpretation, the loss of the Pontificate would take place when some other persons - perhaps only one 
- knew the fact. 

Is there room for still a third interpretation? Can one understand as occult heresy that which is 
already known to many persons, but has still not reached the grand public, has still not become 
“notorious and publicly divulged”? - Such an interpretation is adopted by Wemz-Vidal, who even 
affirms, without hesitating, that according to Saint Robert Bellarmine the Pope heretic would only be 
deposed when his defection in faith became “notorious and publicly divulged” (2). 

4. Evaluation of this Opinion 

We dispense ourselves from presenting again the reasons which can be alleged against this fifth 
opinion. They were already expounded in previous pages (3). 

As we shall say in the following chapter, we judge that this fifth opinion is the true one, and that 
Wemz-Vidal is right when he says - interpreting Saint Robert Bellarmine - that a Pope who should 
become heretical loses the Pontificate ipso facto, in the moment in which his heresy turns “notorious and 
publicly divulged”. 

(1) De Rom. Pont., lib. II, cap. 30. - See also De Ecclesia Militante, lib. Ill, cap. 4-10. 

(2) We would exceed the limits of this exposition if we tried to analyze how fluctuating are, even in the best 
authors, the concepts of “occult”, “manifest”, “public”, “notorious”, etc. - We cite here only some bibliography 
concerning this: Cod, Juris Can., can. 2197; can. 2259, 2; can. 2275, 1; Billot , Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, pp. 
608-609; Lercher , Instit. Theol. Dogm. Vol. I, p. 233, n. 407; Herve , Manuale Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 448; Sipos , 
Ench. luris Can., p. 774, item a; p. 810; p. 833, item b; Salaverri , De Eccl. Christi, p. 879, n. 1047; Miguelez- 
Alonso-Cabreros, Cod. de Der. Can., commentary on can. 2197. 

(3) See especially the citation we make from Suarez (pp. 1 61 ft. ) and Bouix (pp. 1 58 ft.). 



In Defense of the Fifth Opinion Enumerated by Saint Robert Bellarmine 

In the course of the previous chapters we have already made some reflections over the arguments 
alleged by the various schools. We would like to present now an over-all vision of the conclusions to 
which the examination of the matter has led us. 

1. Possibility of a Pope Heretic 

We do not find, either in Scripture or in Tradition (1), reasons which demonstrate the 
impossibility of the fall of a Pope into heresy. On the contrary, numerous testimonies of Tradition speak 
in favor of the possibility of such a fall into heresy, and study the consequences which such a fact would 
have for the life of the Church. 

2. Incompatibility In Radice 

Scripture and Tradition make clear the existence of a profound incompatibility, in radice (in its 
root) between the condition of heretic and the possession of ecclesiastical jurisdiction (2), since the 
heretic ceases to be a member of the Church (3). 

This incompatibility is such that normally the condition of heretic and the holding of 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction cannot be harmonized. Nevertheless, this is not absolute , or that is, it is not 
such that, falling into internal heresy, or even external, the holder of ecclesiastical jurisdiction is 
destituted of his charge ipso facto, in every case and immediately. 

The arguments presented by the divers authors in connection with this ultimate point are decisive 

(4) , and particularly the arguments drawn from the practice of the Church: by the Code of Canon Law 
the heretic only loses jurisdiction when a condemnatory and declaratory sentence is passed against him 

(5) ; priests who have abandoned the Church have jurisdiction to give absolution to persons in peril of 
their lives (6); it is commonly admitted that the schismatic eastern rite bishops (they are also heretics) 
posses a jurisdiction which the Popes tacitly concede to them (7); etc. 

(1) See pp. 148 ff. - Tradition in the broad sense, to which we refer, includes both Divine Tradition and 
Ecclesiastical Tradition. We know it through the acts of the Councils, pontifical documents, patristic writings, the 
works of theologians, etc. (See Pesch , Praelect. Dogma., tomus I, nn. 564, 571). 

(2) See the text of Saint Robert Bellarmine and Suarez which we have transcribed respectively on pp. 164 ff. and 

(3) On the moment in which the heretic ceases to be a member of the Church, see p. 1 57, not 2. 

(4) See the reasons alleged by Suarez , reproduced by us on pp. 156-157. 

(5) Canon 2264. - This canon, by itself, would be sufficient to demonstrate that the texts of the Fathers of the 
Church referring to the incompatibility between heresy and jurisdiction cannot be understood in the sense of an 
incompatibility absolute and in every respect. 

(6) Canon 882. - Lacking another priest, they can also administer the other sacraments and sacramentals to 
persons in peril of their lives: can. 2261 , 3. 

(7) See Herve , Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 449, n. 453, note 1, and bibliography there indicated. 


Therefore, we do not qualify that incompatibility as “ absolute ”, but we speak only of 
“ incompatibility in radice ”. Heresy cuts the root and foundation of jurisdiction, this is, the faith and the 
condition of being a member of the Church. But it does not eliminate ipso facto and necessarily the 
jurisdiction itself. Just as a tree can conserve life even for some time after its roots are cut off, so also, 
in frequent cases, the jurisdiction perdures even after the fall into heresy of him who possessed it (1). 

Nevertheless, the jurisdiction is only conserved in the person of the heretic by a precarious title, 
in a state of violence and in the measure in which it is required for a precise and evident reason, dictated 
by the good of the Church or of souls. - Thus we eliminate the position according to which under no 
hypothesis would the heretical Pope lose his charge (third opinion enumerated by Saint Robert 
Bellarmine); furthermore this position has against it other arguments of weight drawn from Tradition 
and natural reason (2). 

3. The Jurisdiction of the Heretic 

Already cut off at the root, the jurisdiction of the heretic only subsists to the extent that it be 
sustained (3) by someone else. Thus it is that the Pope sustains , for the good of souls and as a safeguard 
of the juridical order in the Church, the jurisdiction of a Bishop heretic still not deposed (4). 

If it is the Supreme Pontiff who falls into heresy, who will be able to sustain jurisdiction in him? 
- The Church? We don’t’ believe it, for the latter, when it is considered in contraposition to the Pope, is 
not superior to him, and for that reason can not sustain his jurisdiction. The Pope is not subject to 
Ecclesiastical Law. - Jesus Christ? Yes, to the extent to which it be licit to attribute to Him the intention 
of sustaining the jurisdiction in the person of a heretic Pontiff. 

4. The Central Question 

Here is planted, then, the central question: could there be circumstances in which one can or one 
must say that Our Lord established that he would sustain , at least for some time, the jurisdiction of an 
eventually heretical Pope? 

There exists nothing, in Sacred Scripture and in Tradition, which constitutes a secure and definite 
answer to that question. As we are not seeking, here, only arguments of probability, but principally 
reasons which justify a certainty, we must find out if we can discover elsewhere sure elements to answer 
the question which is proposed. 

As is obvious, in theological material one cannot conceive an argumentation which does not start 
at least from a revealed premise. What we are looking for therefore, is a minor premise, drawn not from 
Revelation but from natural reason, and which, united to a major revealed premise, furnishes a sure 
solution to the question presented above. 

(1) As Suarez says in the text cited on p. 162, in this case “the Pope heretic is not a member of the Church as regards the 
substance and the form which constitute the members of the Church, but is the head as regards the charge and the action”. 

(2) See pp. 156-157, 160, 168 ft. 

(3) Normally it is said that, in certain cases provided for by Law, the jurisdiction of him who does not have it is “supplied” by 
the Pope or by the Church. In the hypothesis of a common error, for example, the Church “supplies” the inexistent jurisdiction, 
as canon 209 disposes. - However, according to what the authors teach, the “supplied” jurisdiction only exists as “act”, and 
not as “ habit ” (Lehmkuhl, Theologia Moralis, tom. II, 281, n. 387; Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., tom. II, p. 439; Vermeersch-Creusen , 
Epit. luris Can., tom. I, p. 278). Now, in the hypothesis which we are discussing, the jurisdiction would exist as a “ habit ”, and 
not only as “act”. To our knowledge there is no technical term which indicates such a juridical situation. Such being the case, 
we say that the jurisdiction is then “sustained” in the person of the heretic. 

(4) Some authors, above all ancient ones, do not consider that, for the sake of an eminent interest of souls or of the Church, 
jurisdiction can be “sustained” in the heretic. For this reason, even Saint Robert Bellarmine . as we pointed out in note 1 of 
page 1 67, seems to deny the possibility of the permanence of jurisdiction in a manifest heretic - a permanence, that, which the 
practice of the Church in the last centuries, above all in relation to heretic Bishops not yet deposed, obliges one to admit as 


We judge that the revealed major premise from which we must start is the dogma that the Church is a 
visible and perfect society (1). Asa minor premise, we must put the principle, drawn from nature itself, according 
to which the events of the public and official life of a visible and perfect society ought to be “notorious and 
publicly divulged” (2). Thence one would conclude that the eventual destitution of the chief of the Church would 
not be a juridically consummated fact as long as it did not become “notorious and publicly divulged.” 

* * * 

In scholastic form, we would be able to draw up the following sorites: 

The Church is a visible and perfect society. 

Now, the facts of the official and public life of a visible and perfect society, only become juridically 
consummated when they are notorious and publicly divulged. 

Now, the loss of the Papacy is a fact of the public and official life of the Church. 

Consequently, the loss of the Papacy only becomes juridically consummated when it is notorious and 
publicly divulged. 

* * * 

Such a conclusion, flowing from a revealed truth and a premise evident to the natural reason, expresses the sure 
will of Our Lord. It would not be a formally revealed truth , but a virtually revealed truth , a theological 
conclusion . 

Jesus Christ Himself, therefore, would sustain the jurisdiction of a heretical Pope up to the moment in 
which his defection in the faith became “notorious and publicly divulged”. 

* * * 

In consequence, all the jurisdictional acts of the Pope during that period would be valid. Imagining even 
the case of his pronouncing a dogmatic definition, this would be infallible. The Holy Spirit, in such an 
eventuality, would speak through him as he spoke through the mule of Balsam (3). 

* * * 

Note that the argumentation of which we avail ourselves is not the same as that of Saint Robert 
Bellarmine, taken up again by Wernz-Vidal (4). The start from the principle that he who is not, in any way, a 
member of the Church, cannot be its head. Such argument appears true to us, provided that one adds a clause to it 
according to which Our Lord would sustain the jurisdiction of a Pope heretic as long as his heresy had not become 
“notorious and publicly divulged”. However even formulated thus, this argument raises another question, very 
much disputed: That of the exact moment when a heretic ceases to be a member of the Church (5). According to 
what we think, whatever be that moment, the Pope eventually heretic would only effectively fall from the 
Pontificate when his defection in the faith turned “notorious and publicly divulged”. 

(1) See: Denz.-Umb., systematic index, item I la; Denz.-Sch., systematic index, item G 4a. 

(2) We believe that this minor premise does not need demonstration, but it requires some explanations. 

It does not need demonstration because one would not be able to conceive that the public and official life of a visible and perfect 
society developed through occult events. Suarez expounds this principle in the text which we reproduce on page 157. And Dominicus Soto 
uses a particularly happy expression on saying that, in case there were depositions of prelates on accounts of causes which could not be 
known externally, “all jurisdictions would become ambiguous and confused” (“omnes jurisdictiones versarentur in ambiguo et in confuso” - 
comment, in IV Sent., dist. 22, q. 2, a. 2, p. 1022). For an analogous reason the authors say that the resignation of the Pope is only 
consummated in the moment in which it is communicated to the Church (See Coronata . Instil luris Can., vol. I, p. 366). 

Some necessary explanations: 

1. - We have already observed (note 2 of p. 171) that the concept of “notoriety” does not have an entirely defined sense in Canon Law. 
We understand here by “Notorious” that which, legally and in fact, fulfills all the conditions necessary so that it can be known by all, with 
certainty and without great difficulties. 

2. - We understand by “publicly divulged” that which in fact has come to the knowledge of the great public, or at least of a sufficient 
number of persons so that the process of its divulgation to the grand public has already become irreversible. 

3. - The expression “notorious and publicly divulged” is found in Wernz-Vidal . as we have pointed out in note 3 of p. 170. 

(3) See note 1 of p. 147 - Lavmann pronounces in this same sense, Theol. Mor., lib. II, tract. I, cap. VII, n 1 , p. 146. 

(4) See pp. 164 ft. and 171. 

(5) Seep. 157. 


5. The Necessity of a Declaration Is Excluded 

In our view, the arguments presented above eliminate the opinions according to which the Pope 
would lose the Pontificate in the moment in which he fell into internal heresy (1), in external occult 
heresy (2), and in manifest external heresy but not “notorious and publicly divulged” (3). 

There would still remain two positions to be examined: that of the loss ipso facto for “notorious 
and publicly divulged” heresy (4), and that of the loss by means of a declaration (5). 

Now, this last appears unsustainable, for, as Saint Robert Bellarmine showed in his 
argumentation against Cajetan (6), it cannot be harmonized with the principle that the Pope cannot be 
judged by any man (7). 

6. The Degree of Notoriety and Divulgation 

What is the degree of notoriety and divulgation necessary for the eventually heretical Pope to be 
considered deposed? - In response to this question we must initially observe that there would be a 
certain degree of notoriety and divulgation in which, without any doubt, the loss of the charge would be 
produced. The problem would be created - that yes - in relation to the precise moment in which the 
destitution is produced. As to this detail, the question which is proposed would only be able to be 
finally answered in function of the concrete circumstances. The concepts of “notorious” and “publicly 
divulged” (8) appear to us clear in theory; their application in the concrete order would require the 
examination of an extensive casuistry, which we do not have room to treat here. 

It is enough, for the moment, to recall an observation which we made above (9): one does not 
have to hold this opinion to be false because of the fact that in practice it would be able to bring about 
dissensions of magnitude. 

7. Conclusion 

Resuming: We believe that a careful examination of the question of a Pope heretic, with the 
theological elements of which we dispose today, permits one to conclude that an eventual Pope heretic 
would lose his charge in the moment in which his heresy became “notorious and publicly divulged”. 
And we think that this sentence is not only intrinsically probable , but certain , since the reasons 
allegeable in its defense appear to us as absolutely cogent. Besides, in the works which we have 
consulted, we have not found any argument which persuaded us of the opposite. 

(1 ) The second opinion referred by Saint Robert Bellarmine - See pp. 1 56 ft. 

(2) The first subdivision proposed by us to the fifth opinion referred by Saint Robert Bellarmine - See p. 170. 

(3) The second subdivision which we proposed to the fifth opinion - See p. 170. 

(4) The third subdivision which we proposed on the fifth opinion. - See p. 1 70. 

(5) The fourth opinion referred by Saint Robert Bellarmine . - See pp. 161 ff. 

(6) We transcribe that long argumentation on pp. 1 64 ff. - See also note 2 of p. 1 64. 

(7) One ought not to see shades of conciliarism in the principle that ecclesiastical organisms, as the Council, can 
omit a pronouncement declaring the eventual cessation of functions of a Pope heretic, as long as these 
organisms do not claim for themselves any right other than that enjoyed by any one of the faithful. For motives of 
mere convenience or courtesy, it could behoove these organisms to make such a declaration, in the first place; 
but this priority would not constitute for them a right of their own, or even less exclusive. 

(8) See note 2 of p. 174. 

(9) See note 2 of p. 162. 


Anyway, other opinions remain extrinsically probable , seeing that they have in their favor 
authors of weight. Therefore, in the order of concrete action it would not be licit to take a determined 
position, seeking to impose it without more ado. It is for this reason that, as we said in the beginning 
(1), we invite the specialists in the material to restudy the question. Only thus will it be possible to 
arrive at a general agreement among the theologians, so that a determined opinion can be classified as 
theologically certain . 

(1) See pp. 141-142. 



The Schismatic Pope and the Dubious Pope 

Along with the question of the Pope heretic, the theologians usually study various other 
extraordinary cases which would be able to create delicate juridical situations for the person of the Pope 
considered in his relations with the supreme Pontificate. 

They address the hypotheses of a schismatic Pope, a doubtful Pope, a Pope resigning, an 
incompetent Pope, a scandalous Pope, a demented Pope, a Pope excessively old but still master of 
himself, a Pope imprisoned, of the election of a person juridically incapable of the Pontificate, etc.. 

As is obvious, we cannot examine all these hypotheses in the light of all circumstances. Such an 
analysis would even be devoid of interest, in view of the fact that in connection with various of the cases 
indicated the Church teaches a doctrine that is well known and about which no one feels uncertain. 

We shall say only a word about the hypotheses which at the moment are not relevant to our 
theme, and afterwards we will study in a leisurely fashion the two cases which are intimately related 
with the question which occupies us: that of a schismatic Pope and that of a doubtful Pope. 

* * * 

On the right of resignation which belongs to the Pope, canon 221 determines 

“If it happens that the Roman Pontiff resigns, an acceptation of his resignation by the Cardinals or 
anyone whatsoever is not necessary for its validity” (1). 

* * * 

In regard to the hypothesis of dementia, Claeys Bouuaert teaches that the Pope who loses 
definitively the use of the mental faculties ceases to be Pope; and he explains: 

“(...) becoming incapable of doing a human act, the demented Pope would be in consequence incapable 
of exercising his jurisdiction. The help of a vicar would not be able to supply this, given that infallibility 
and the primacy of jurisdiction cannot be delegated” (2). 

Almost all the authors express the same opinion (3). There are, however, those who say, with 
Cappello, that it is not possible to prove certain and perpetual dementia (4); this last position is difficult 
to sustain today, in view of the progresses of medicine and of psychology. 

(1) In the same sense, you may see: Boniface VIII , c. Quoniam, de Renunt., in 6; Suarez , De Fide , disp. X, sect. 
VI, n. I, pp. 315-316; Billot , “Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, pp. 603-605 Coronata , Inst, luris Can., vol. I, p. 366; 
Claeys Bouuaert , Traite ..., tome I, p. 376; Dictionnaire ..., article “Pontife Romain”, col. 27. 

(2) Traite..., tome I, p. 376. 

(3) See, for example: Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., vol. II, n. 452, p. 516; Wilmers , De Christi Eccl., p. 258; Chelodi , lus 
de Personis, n. 155, p. 245; Cocchi , Comment, . in Cod. I. Can., Ill, n. 155, p. 25; Vermeersch-Creusen , Epit. I. 
Can., I, n. 340, p. 292. 

(4) Cappello , De Curia Ftomana, Rome, 1913, II, pp. 13-14 (cited by Coronata, Inst, luris Can., I, p. 366, note 7). 
- On this point, one can consult also: Coronata , Inst, luris Can., I, p. 366; Sipos , Enchiridion..., p. 156, note 31. 
In another work, Cappello affirms that in the concrete order God will never permit it to happen that a Pope 
become insane: Summa luris Can., I, n. 309, p. 276. 


Treating in the same text of the various hypotheses which we have indicated, Suarez teaches: 

“(...) unless a true and certain Pontiff falls into perpetual insanity - in which hypothesis he is destituted, 
by divine right, from the Pontificate - he always remains in his charge. And he cannot be deprived of it, 
even though other troubles and calamities impede him from governing the Church fittingly. Under this 
conclusion I include the many events which Cajetan, Torquemada and Pighi treat at length in the 
passages indicated above, and I am in entire accord with them. For perpetual insanity is equivalent to 
death as far as the use of reason and liberty are concerned and therefore as far as the capacity of 
jurisdiction and occupation of a charge. This is demonstrated also by the reasons presented above (...). 
For if it were licit to imagine other cases in which the Pope ought to be deposed - advanced senility, 
perpetual captivity and such like - this would create the occasion for schisms, and frequently the true 
Pontiff would be justly or unjustly placed in doubt. It was absolutely necessary for this reason to block 
the way for seditions and disturbances in the Church in respect to the true Pontiff’ (1). 

* * 

It is fitting to say a specific word about the cases of the incompetent Pope and the morally 
scandalous Pope. In these hypotheses, the circumstances would eventually create for the Pontiff an 
obligation in conscience to renounce his charge; if however he did not do it, by no means would he lose 
the Papacy or would he be able to be destituted of it. This is what the Tradition of the Church 
unanimously and dogmatically affirms (2). As is obvious, the right or perhaps the duty to admonish the 
erring Pope in his personal conduct could fall to the Bishops, the priests or even the simple faithful (3). 

The hypothesis of the election, for the Pontificate, of a person who legally cannot occupy the 
charge, is of interest for the study of the problem of a doubtful Pope, as we shall indicate farther on. For 
now it is enough, to reproduce what the authors say: at present there is no provision of ecclesiastical law 
in respect to this matter, by divine law the following classes of persons cannot be elected Pope: women; 
persons who do not have the use of reason, that is, children and mad persons; persons who are not 
members of the Church, that is, pagans, apostates, heretics (4) and schismatics. The election would be 
valid therefore in case it fell upon a non-Cardinal, even so far as a layman or a married man (5). 

(1) Suarez , De Fide, disp, X, sect. VI, n 17. 

(2) See for example: Suarez , De Fide, disp. X sect. VI, nn. 14-18, pp. 320-322; De Legibus, lib. IV, cap VII, nn. 3- 
5, p. 359; Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tom. II, pp. 640 ff. Billot , Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, pp. 605-606; Ballerini , De 
Potest. Eccl..., p. 99. 

(3) On this matter, see chapter XI, pp. 202 ff. 

(4) It is this aspect of the question - the election of a heretic - which will be of particular interest for the 
hypothesis of a doubtful Pope, as we shall indicate on p. 186 ff. 

(5) On the persons unqualified for the Papacy by divine law, see other data on page 1 86. 


A. The Hypothesis of a Schismatic Pope 

The possibility of the Pope falling into schism appears absurd in principle. For is schism not the 
breaking off of one of the faithful from the Pope? How can the Pope break off with himself? Ubi 
Petrus, ibi Ecclesia : Where Peter is, there is the Church. 

Nevertheless, numerous authors of importance do not exclude the hypothesis (1). 

1. Suarez 

Suarez explains it in the following terms: 

“Schism may come about not only by reason of heresy, but also without it, as takes place when 
someone, conserving the faith, does not wish to maintain the unity of the Church in his actions and his 
manner of practicing our religion. And this may come about in two ways. In the first way, separating 
oneself from the head of the Church, as one reads in the chapter Non Vos , 23, question 5, where the 
Gloss says that schism consists in not having the Roman Pontiff as one’s head - not denying that the 
Roman Pontiff is the head of the Church, for this would be schism united to heresy, but either rashly 
denying some Pontiff in particular, or behaving oneself in relation to him as if he were not the head: for 
example if someone tried to convoke a General Council without his authorization, or elect an anti-pope. 
This is the most common mode of schism. 

There could be schism of a second mode if someone separated himself from the body of the Church not 
wishing to communicate with it in the participation of the sacraments. Saint Epiphanius narrates an 
example of this ( Haeres ., 68), in respect to the sect of Melecius, who, dissenting with his Patriarch, 
Peter of Alexandrine, separated himself from him in al the sacrifices, and was accused of schism, there 
not existing between the two any divergence in matters of faith, as Epiphanius attests. And in this 
second mode the Pope could be schismatic, in case he did not want to have due union and coordination 
with the whole body of the Church as would be the case if he tried to excommunicate the whole Church, 
or if he wanted to subvert all the ecclesiastical ceremonies founded on apostolic tradition, as we 
observed by Cajetan (ad II-II, q. 39) and, with greater amplitude, Torquemada (1. 4, c.ll)” (2). 

(1) Among them we can cite: Torquemada , Summa de Ecclesia, lib. II, cap. 102; lib. IV, cap. 11; Cajetan , in II-II, 
q. 39, a. 1; Suarez , De Caritate, disp. XII, sect. I, n. 2, pp. 733-734; sect. II, n. 3, p. 737; Sylvius , in II-II, 39, I, pp. 
228-229; Tanner , De Spe et Carit., q. 6, dub. 2 (cited by Wernz-Vidal, lus Can., tom. II, p. 518); VanLaak , 
Institutionum ..., pars I, p. 506; Billot , Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, p. 606; Wernz-Vidal , loc. cit. ; M.-J. Conqar , 
article “Schisme in Diet, de Theol. Cath., cols. 1303, 1306; Journet , L’Eglise ..., vol. II, pp. 839-840; Kuenq , 
Structures..., pp. 306 ft. ; Mondello , La Dottrina..., pp. 182 ft. 

(2) Suarez , De Caritate, disp. XII, sect. I n 2, pp. 733-734. As we see, the hypothesis of a fall of the Pope into 
schism, as conceived by the theologians who really studied the question, is logically possible, granted that it does 
not involve a contadiction. We do not comprehend, then, how a canonist of incontestable authority, like Father 
Cappello could write; “Some cite also (among the cases of cessation of pontifical power) schism (of the Pope) and 
they match it with heresy (cfr. Wernz, II, n. 616). But how can the Pope become schismatic? For where he is, is 
not the (cfr. can. 1325, 2) true Church there also? This opinion, as others, must be considered antiquated” 
(Summa luris Can., I, p. 276, note 21). A position analogous to that of Father Cappello is adopted also by 
Phillips , Du Droit Eccl., vol. I, p. 178. In our view, the attitude taken by these authors induces one to think that 
they did not study the question ex professo. 


2. Cardinal Journet 

On the same matter, Cardinal Joumet writes: 

“1. The ancient theologians (Torquemada, Cajetan, Banez), who thought, in agreement with the 
“Decree” of Gracian (part I, dist.XV, c. IV), that the Pope, infallible as Doctor of the Church, could 
however personally sin against faith and fall into heresy (see L’Eglise du Verbe Incarne t. I, p. 596), 
admitted with greater reason that the Pope could sin against charity, even in the measure that this latter 
constitutes the unity of the ecclesiastical communion, and thus fall into schism (1). 

The unity of the Church, according to what they said, subsists when the Pope dies. Therefore, it could 
subsist also when a Pope fell into schism (Cajetan, II-II, q. 39, a. 1, n VI). 

They ask themselves, however, in what manner can the Pope become schismatic. For he can separate 
himself neither from the chief of the Church, that is, from himself, nor from the Church, for where the 
Pope is, there is the Church. 

To this Cajetan responds that the Pope could break the communion by ceasing to comport himself as the 
spiritual chief of the Church, deciding for example to act as a mere temporal prince. To save his liberty, 
he would flee thus from the duties of his charge; and if he did this with pertinacity there would be 
schism (2). As for the axiom “where the Pope is, there is the Church”, it holds when the Pope comports 
himself as Pope and chief of the Church; otherwise, the Church is not in him, nor is he in the Church 
(Cajetan, ibidem). 

2. It is said at times that the Pope, being unable to disobey, has only one gateway to schism (3). From 
the analyses which we are carrying on it turns out, on the contrary, that he also can sin against the 
ecclesiastical community in two ways: 1) breaking the unity of connection , which would suppose on his 
part the will to avoid the action of grace as far as this is sacramental , and what brings into being the 
unity of the Church; 2) breaking the unity of direction , which would result, according to the penetrating 
analysis of Cajetan, if he rebelled as a private person against the obligations of his charge and refused to 
the Church (trying to excommunicate the whole Church or simply resolving, in a deliberate way, to live 
as a mere temporal Prince) the spiritual orientation which she has the right to expect from him in the 
name of Someone who is greater than he: in the name of Christ and of God” (4). 

(1) In a footnote, Cardinal Journet makes here the following observation: 

“This possibility is not universally admitted. Still, says M. J. Congar: “considered in a purely theoretical 
manner it does not appear doubtful” (D.T.C., article “Schisme”, col. 1306). It is taught by Suarez ( De Charitate , 
disp. 12, sect. I, n 2, t. XII, p. 733)”. 

(2) In a footnote, Cardinal Journet cites the Latin text itself of Cajetan , which we translate: 

“The person of the Pope may refuse to submit himself to the Papal charge (...). And if he did this with 
pertinacity of spirit, he would become schismatic by separating himself from the unity of the head. In effect, his 
person is bound, before God, by the laws of his charge (ibidem).” 

(3) In a footnote, Cardinal Journet cites a topic of the text of Suarez which we cite above, and makes the 
following commentary: 

“According to Suarez, the Pope therefore would not be able to sin against the unity of direction. But he 
presents as an example that which we consider precisely as a sin against the unity of direction”. 

(4) Cardinal C. Journet , L’Eglise..., vol. II, pp. 839-840. 


3. Cardinal John de Torquemada 

On analyzing the possibility of a schismatic Pope both the authors of past centuries as well as the 
modern authors usually refer to a classic study of the matter: that of Cardinal John de Torquemada (1). 
One of the most illustrious theologians of the XV Century, a famous defender of the pontifical 
prerogatives against the conciliarists. Cardinal Torquemada wrote treatises on the Church, whose 
authority is made evident by Hans Kueng in the following terms: 

“(...) the Spanish Cardinal John Torquemada is a vigorous and the most influential paladin of the 
pontifical primacy of the XV Century to whose writings all the future defenders of the primacy went to 
deny their arguments: from Domenico Jocabazzi and Cajetan, through Melchior Cano, Suarez, Gregorio 
de Valencia and Bellarmine, up to the theologians of the First Vatican Council” (2). 

And Father M. J. Congar observes that the Summa de Ecclesia of Torquemada is a treatise “of 
real and durable value” (3). 

To demonstrate that “Pope can separate himself illegitimately from the unity of the Church and 
from obedience to the head of the Church, and therefore fall into schism, Cardinal Torquemada uses 
three arguments: 

“1 - (...) by disobedience, the Pope can separate himself from Christ, who is the principal head of the 
Church and in relation to whom the unity of the Church is primarily constituted. He can do this by 
disobeying the law of Christ (4) or by ordering something which is contrary to natural or divine law. In 
this way he would separate himself from the body of the Church, while it is subject to Christ by 
obedience. Thus, the Pope would be able without doubt to fall into schism. 

2. The Pope can separate himself without any reasonable cause, just for pure self will, from the body of 
the Church and the college of priests. He will do this if he does not observe that which the Church 
Universal observes on the basis of the Tradition of the Apostles according to the chapter 
Ecclesiasticarum, dil. 11, or if he did not observe that which was universally ordained by the universal 
Councils or by the authority of the Apostolic See above all in relation to Divine Worship. For example, 
not wishing to observe personally something from the universal customs of the Church, or the universal 
rite of the ecclesiastical cult. This would take place in case he did not wish to celebrate with the sacred 
vestments, or in consecrated places, or with candles, or if he did not wish to make “The Sign of the 
Cross” like the other priests make it, or other similar things which have been decreed in a general way 
for perpetual utility, according to the canons Quae ad perpetuam, Violatores, Sunt quidam and Contra 
statuta (25, q. 1). Departing in such a way, and with pertinacity, from the universal observance of the 
Church, the Pope would be able to fall into schism. The consequence 

(1) Cardinal Torquemada was uncle of the so much discussed (even up to the present) Spanish inquisitor Thomas de 

Among the expounders of the question of a schismatic Pope who appeal to the authority of Torquemada, we indicate here 
some significant names: Suarez, De Carit. disp. XII, sect. I, n. 2, p. 734; Sylvius, ad ll-ll, 39, 1; Kueng , Structures..., pp. 351 ff; 
Journet , L’Eglise..., vol. II, p. 839; Yves M. J. Congar , Dictde The. Cath.. article “Schisme”, col. 1306. 

(2) Hans Kueng, Structures..., p. 351. 

(3) Yves M. J. Congar , article “Schisme”, in Diet, de Theot. Cath., col. 1295. - On the authority which Cardinal Torguemada 
enjoys in this matter, see also De Vooght, Le Concitiarisme..., p. 176; A. Michael , article “ Torguemada, Jean de ”. in Diet, de 
Theot. Cath., cols. 1235-1239; Mondello . La Dottrina..., pp. 44-45. 

(4) As is obvious, the sin of schism is not committed in any act of disobedience whatsoever, but only in that in which one 
denies the very principle of authority in the Church, breaking thus the ecclesiastical unity (see Saint Thomas, Summa Theol ., 
ll-ll. 39, I; M. J. Congar , Diet, de Th. Cath., article “Schisme”, col. 1304). Such a conception is presupposed by Torquemada 
in the text cited. We make this observation because it might possibly appear to the reader that the passage transcribed above 
grossly confounds “disobedience to the law of Christ” with schism - which would have the absurd consequence that for any sin 
whatsoever the Pope would become schismatic. Torquemada is, moreover, one of the greatest defenders of the principle that 
a scandalous and immoral but not heretical or schismatic Pope conserves the Pontificate (see Summa de Eccl ., lib. II, cap. 
101 ). 


is good; and the antecedent is not doubtful, for the Pope, just as he could fall into heresy, could also 
disobey and pertinaciously cease to observe that which was established for the common order in the 
Church. For this reason, Innocent says (c. De Consue.) that one ought to obey the Pope in everything as 
long as he does not turn against the universal order of the Church, for in such a case the Pope must not 
be followed, unless there be reasonable cause for this. 

3. Let us suppose that more than one person considers himself Pope, and that one of them be the true 
Pope, but considered by some to be probably dubious. And let us suppose that this true Pope comported 
himself with such negligence and obstinacy in the pursuit of unity in the Church, that he did not wish to 
do everything he could for the reestablishment of unity. In this hypothesis the Pope would be 
considered as a fomenter of schism, according to the way many have argued, even in our days, in 
connection with Benedict XIII and Gregory XII” (1). 

4. A Schismatic Pope Would Lose the Pontificate 

The authors who admit the possibility of a schismatic Pope, in general do not hesitate to affirm 
that in such a hypothesis, as in that of a Pope heretic, the Pontiff loses the charge. The reason for this is 
evident: schismatics are excluded from the Church, in the same way as heretics (2). 

In this matter, Suarez constitutes an exception, in sustaining that the schismatic Pope is not 
deprived of nor can he be deprived of his charge (3); his opinion however does not merit particular 
attention, since it is based upon the Suarezian thesis, today abandoned by all (4), that the schismatics, 
even public ones, do not cease to be members of the Church. 

Since this is so, we can conclude, with Cajetan, that 

“(• . .) the Church is in the Pope when he comports himself as Pope, that is, as Head of the Church; but in 
case he did not want to act as Head of the Church, neither would the Church be in him, nor he in the 
Church” (5). 

Moreover, it is opportune to remember that “he who is pertinacious in schism, is practically 
indistinguishable from a heretic” (6); that “no schism fails to think up some heresy to justify it 
separation from the Church” (7); that schism constitutes a disposition for heresy (8); and that the 
schismatic, according to Canon Law and Natural Law, is suspect of heresy (9). 

(1) Cardinal Torquemada , Summa de Ecclesia, pars I, lib. IV, cap. 1 1 , p. 369 v. 

(2) The apostates are also excluded from the Church. An apostate Pope would be him who wholly abandoned 
the Christian religion - for example, becoming a mohammedan or buddhist. The hypothesis, though fantastical, is 
however mentioned in passing by some authors, as Billot , Tract, de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, p. 606, and 
Schmalzqrueber , lus Eccl. Univ., tomus I, pars I, dissert, proem., 8, n. 316. P. 132. 

(3) Suarez , De Caritate, disp. XII, sect. II, n. 3, p. 737. 

(4) See M. J. Conqar , Diet, de Th. Cath., article “Schisme”, col. 1306-1307. 

(5) Cajetan , in ll-ll, 39, 1 , ad VI. - The same thesis that the schismatic Pope loses the Pontificate is defended by: 
Torquemada , Summa de Ecclesia , lib. II, cap. 102, p. 341 v.” lib. IV, cap. 11, pp. 369-370; Sylvius , in ll-ll, 39, I, 
concl. 2, p. 229; Tanner , De Spe et Carit., q. 6. dub 2 (cited by Wernz-Vidal, lus Can., tom II, p. 518); Billot , Tract, 
de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, p. 606; Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., tom. II. p. 518; M. J. Conqar , article “Schisme”, col. 1306; 
Journet , L’Eglise..., vol. II, pp. 839-840; Kuenq , Structures..., pp. 306 ff.; Mondello , La Dottrina..., pp. 182-184, 

(6) Pietro Ballerini (De Pot. Eccl., cap. IV, nn. 14-15) cited by Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 681 . 

(7) Saint Jerome {in epist. ad Titum, c. Ill, v. 11; P. L. 26, 598), cited by M. J. Conqar , Diet, de The. Cath., article 
“Schisme”, col. 1293. See also Sylvius , in ll-ll, 39, 1, ad 3, p. 228. 

(8) Principle enunciated by Saint Jerome , Saint Augustine and Saint Raymond de Penefort (see M. J. Congar, 
Diet, de Th. Cath., article “Schisme”, col. 1269. 

(9) See M. J. Conqar , Diet, de Th. Cath., article “Schisme”, col. 1305. 


B. Hypothesis of a Dubious Pope 

Among the authors of the treatises in general, the hypothesis of a dubious Pope is related 
especially to the Pope whose election was doubtful. For, if the election was certain, the doubts which 
can appear are reduced to the other extraordinary cases enumerated above (1). Indeed, any doubt 
posterior to a certain election can only arise - with or without foundation - in case the Pope falls into 
heresy, shows signs of insanity, lapses into schism, etc. 

Such being the case, we shall analyze especially here the eventuality of a dubious election. And 
we shall also make some considerations about determined cases of doubt arising from a possible heresy 
in the person of the Pontiff. 

1. A Dubious Pope is a Null Pope 

In this respect, Wilmers writes: 

“In case the election of a Pope has become so doubtful that it is impossible to know with certainty who 
is the true Pontiff, he whose election was dubious must resign, according to what the majority of the 
authors say, so that new elections can be held. If he does not renounce, the Church or the bishops can 
declare that he is not Pope, since his election was doubtful. This is based on the principle “a dubious 
Pope is a null Pope”. Indeed, he whose authority is uncertain, cannot require one to obey him for the 
same reason for which men are not obliged to obey a law which has not been promulgated” (2). 

There are authors who disagree with this way of thinking and deny such an interpretation of the 
axiom “a dubious Pope is a null Pope” ( Papa clubius, Papa nullus). It does not seem to us however that 
such theologians have enfocused the question in its due terms. For they sustain only - which everyone 
admits - that no earthly authority can depose a legitimate Pope, who however is considered dubious by 
many (3). 

What such authors do not seem to take into consideration, is that which Wilmers observed on 
refuting Phillips, another adversary of the principle “a dubious Pope is a null Pope”: 

“He seems to confuse an election which is legitimate before God, with an election which can be and 
really is known by men as legitimate. It is not enough that the election has been legitimate before God; 
it is necessary that it also be known as legitimate and as not subject to serious doubt. Analogously, it is 
not enough for a law to have been approved, but it is required that it have been also promulgated” (4). 

This controversy develops above all around the questions raised by the Council of Constance. 
We think it unnecessary to treat this matter at length here, since it is not our purpose to enfocus 
historical problems as such. 

(1) See pages 177 ff. 

(2) Wilmers , De Christi Ecc., p. 258. - On the same matter, one may see also: Saint Robert Bellarmine , De 
Cone., 2, 19, ad, 3 arg. Gerson; Suarez , De Fide, disp. 10, sect. 6, n. 19; De Caritate, disp. XII, sect. I, n. 11, p. 
736; Sylvius , in ll-ll, 39, 1, p. 228; Ferraris , Prompta Bib!., article “Papa”, nn. 69-70, col. 1846; Saint Alphonse de 
Liquori , Opere..., vol. VIII, p. 720; Oeuvr. Dogm., vol. 17 bis. P. 11; Pesch , Compendium..., tom. I, p. 208; 
Camillus Mazzella , De Rel. et Ecci., p. 747; Billot , Tract, de Eccl. Christi, I, 612-613; Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., II, pp. 
520-521 ; Wilmers , De Christi Eccl., pp. 258-259; Coronata , Inst, luris Can., vol. I, p. 367. 

(3) Bouix , one of the partisans of this opinion, writes: “we shall prove that, as a remedy for the case under study, 
Christ did not institute any authority with power over the true and legitimate Pope” - Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 

(4) Wilmers , De Christi Eccl., p. 258, note 1. 


2. Declaration by a Council 

On whom would be incumbent the responsibility of declaring that the dubious Pope is not the 
true Pope? Our ancestors used to attribute this mission to the Bishops united in Council. Saint Robert 
Bellarmine, for example, wrote: 

“A dubious Pope must be considered as not being Pope; therefore, having power over him is not having 
power over the Pope (...). Though the Council without the Pope cannot define new dogmas of faith, it 
can however, in time of schism, judge who is the true Pope and provide the Church with a true shepherd, 
when the latter is null or dubious (...)” (1). 

* * * 

The Apostolic Constitution Vacante Sede (December 25, 1904) and the Code of Canon Law 
(promulgated in 1917) modified some norms for the election of the Supreme Pontiff. After these 
documents entered into effect, certain authors continued to maintain that it pertained to the Bishops met 
in Council to decide the validity of the election of a dubious Pope (2); other authors, however, judge that 
this attribute belongs at present to the College of Cardinals. Among these last is found Coronata, who 
expounds his point of view thus: 

“If the doubt, therefore, is antecedent, because the legitimacy of the election was always doubted, (the 
authors commonly) attribute to the Ecumenical Council the power to judge about this legitimacy (...). 
This position however does not appear correct, at least according to the Law in force. For two 
hypotheses are then possible. Either the election is objectively and truly doubtful according to the 
thinking of the whole Church, and in this case the Pope is null even without the judgement of any 
Council, for the election was not make in a legitimate manner (can. 219); or the objective doubt is not so 
probable and universal, but is of more difficult solution according to the thinking of the learned and 
prudent, and in this case the judgement which will resolve the doubt does not belong to the Ecumenical 
Council, which cannot be conceived without the Roman Pontiff (see canons 222 and 229) and to which 
this power has not been attributed by anyone whatsoever in a manner one can prove, but is within the 
competency of the College of Cardinals, to which the Constitution “Vacante Sede” expressly conceded 
the right of interpreting the laws covering the election of the Roman Pontiff (nn. 3-4). Furthermore, in 
this same Constitution (n. 19) and in Canon 229 any continuation or new reunion of an Ecumenical 
Council, and it would seem “a fortiori”, its convocation is absolutely prohibited during a vacancy in the 
Apostolic See (...)” (3). 

* * 

(1) Saint Robert Bellarmine , De Conciliis, lib. II, cap. 19. - On this passage of Saint Robert Bellarmine, see: 
Wilmers , De Christi Eccl., pp. 258-259; Pesch , Compendium..., tom. I, p. 208. 

(2) For example: Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., II, p. 521 . 

(3) Coronata , Instit. luris Can., Vol. I, pp. 367, 368. 


What is one to think of this dispute? We believe that the partisans of judgement by the Council 
would not oppose what Coronata says. The hypothesis studied by them is another, that is, that the 
cardinals had not reached a definitive solution of the doubt. In that case, “the Church would always 
have the right to know with certainty who is there true chief’, as Suarez, a follower of judgement by the 
Council, observes (1). Such circumstances would destroy the arguments of Coronata, for ecclesiastical 
law cannot prevent the Bishops from asserting their divine right to know with certainty who is the true 

Can one prove that the right to pronounce over such a question belongs to the Bishops? 
Coronata denies it; it seems to us however that Suarez would found this right on the fact that the Bishops 
are “the ordinary pastors and the columns of the Church” - the argument presented by him to defend the 
thesis of the declaration of papal heresy by the Council, is what we judge by analogy to be applicable to 
the case of a dubious Pope (2). 

3. Pacific and Universal Acceptance 

In respect to a doubtful Pope, it is necessary to make it very clear here that the peaceful 
acceptance of a Pope by the whole Church is “a sign and an infallible effect of a valid election” (3). 
This is the common teaching of the authors (4). 

Analyzing simultaneously aspects of the questions of a Pope heretic and of a dubious Pope, 
Cardinal Billot expounds that principle in the following terms: 

“Finally, whatever you still think about the possibility or impossibility of the aforementioned hypothesis 
(of a Pope heretic), at least one point must be considered absolutely incontrovertible and placed firmly 
above any doubt whatever: the adhesion of the universal Church will be always, in itself, an infallible 
sign of the legitimacy of a determined Pontiff, and therefore also of the existence of all the conditions 
required for legitimacy itself. It is not necessary to look far for the proof of this, but we find it 
immediately in the promise and the infallible providence of Christ: “The gates of hell shall not prevail 
against it”, and “Behold I shall be with you all days”. For the adhesion of the Church to a false Pontiff 
would be the same as its adhesion to a false rule of faith, seeing that the Pope is the living rule of faith 
which the Church must follow and which in fact she always follows. As will become even more clear 
by what we shall say later. God can permit that at times a vacancy in the Apostolic See be prolonged for 
a long time. He can also permit that doubt arise about the legitimacy of this or that election. He cannot 
however permit that the whole Church accept as Pontiff him who is not so truly and legitimately. 
Therefore, from the moment in which the Pope is accepted by the Church and united to her as the head 
to the body, it is no longer permitted to raise doubts about a possible vice of election or a possible lack 
of any condition whatsoever necessary for legitimacy. For the aforementioned adhesion of the Church 
heals in the root all fault in the election and proves infallibly the existence of all the required conditions. 
Let this be said in passing against those who, trying to justify certain attempts at schism made in 

(1) Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, n 19, p. 322. 

(2) Compare Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, n. 7 with n. 19. 

(3) Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., II. p. 520. Note 171. - The expression “infallible effect” does not indicate here an effect 
which infallibly follows from its cause. But it indicates something which, if it occurs, can only have been produced 
by such a cause of which therefore it is, beyond a shadow of doubt, an effect - that is, an “infallible effect”. See 
the exposition of this specific point in Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sect. V, n. 8, p. 31 5. 

(4) So teach, for example: Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sect. V, especially nn. 6-8 (pp. 314-315); Ferraris , Prompts 
Bib!., article “Papa”, col. 1846, n. 69; Saint Alphonse de Liqouri, a text which we cite on p. 50; Bouix , Tract, de 
Papa, tom. II, pp. 683 ff.; Wernz-Vidal , lus Can., tom. II. pp. 520-521; Billot , text which we cite below; Journet , 
L’Eglise..., vol. I, p. 624. 


the time of Alexander VI, allege that its promoter broadcast that he had most certain proofs, which he 
would reveal to a General Council, of the heresy of Alexander. Putting aside here other reasons with 
which one could easily be able to refute such an opinion, it is enough to remember this: it is certain that 
when Savonarola was writing his letters to the Princes, all of Christendom adhered to Alexander VI and 
obeyed him as the true Pontiff. For this very reason, Alexander VI was not a false Pope, but a legitimate 
one. Therefore, he was not a heretic at least in the sense in which the fact of being a heretic takes away 
one’s membership in the Church and in consequence deprives one, by the very nature of things, of the 
pontifical power and of any other ordinary jurisdiction” (1). 

On this same sanatio in raclice by virtue of the acceptance of the Pope by the whole Church, 
Saint Alphonse of Liguori writes, in less heated but perhaps even more incisive terms: 

“It is of no importance that in past centuries some Pontiff was illegitimately elected or took possession 
of the Pontificate by fraud; it is enough that he was accepted afterwards by the whole Church as Pope, 
since by such acceptance he would have become the true Pontiff. But if during a certain time he had not 
been truly and universally accepted by the Church, during that time the Pontifical See would have been 
vacant, as it is vacant on the death of a Pontiff’ (2). 

4. The Election of a Person who Cannot Be Pope 

The designation, as Pope, of a person who cannot occupy the charge, would constitute a special 
case of dubious election. For it is a common opinion (3) that the election of a woman, of a child, of a 
demented person and of someone who were not a member of the Church (a person not baptized, a 
heretic, an apostate, a schismatic) would be invalid by divine law. 

Among these causes of invalidity it seems to us that it would be necessary to distinguish those 
which would admit of a “sanatio in radice” from those which would not. A woman could not become 
Pope under any hypothesis. But the same thing would not apply with a demented person, who could be 
cured; with a child, who could grow; with a non-baptized person, who could be converted. 

This being laid down, we ask: in the hypotheses of invalidity which admits of sanatio in radice , 
would the eventual acceptation by the whole Church of the invalidly elected Pope remedy the vices of 
the election? 

A complete answer to this question would require a detailed analysis of each of the cases of 
invalidity. And this would exceed the objectives which we have set for ourselves. 

Such being the case, we shall only consider the hypothesis which is most relevant to the 
perspective in which we place ourselves: The election of a heretic to the Papacy. What would happen if 
a notorious heretic were elected and assumed the Pontificate without anyone having contested his 

(1) Billot , Tract de Eccl. Christi, tom. I, pp. 612-613. 

(2) Saint Alphonse de Liquori , Verita della Fede, in “Opera...”, vol. VIII. P. 720, n. 9. 

(3) See: Ferreres , Inst. Canonicae, tom. I, p. 132; Coronata , Inst, luris Canonici, vol. I, p. 360; Schmalzqrueber , 
lus Eccl. Univ., tom. I, pars II, p. 376, n. 99; Caietan , De Auctoriatate..., cap. XXVI, n. 382, pp. 167-168. 


At first sight, the answer to this question is, in theory , very simple: since God cannot permit that 
the whole Church err about who is her chief, the Pope peacefully accepted by the whole Church is the 
true Pope (1). It would be the duty of the theologians, on the basis of this clear theoretical principle, to 
resolve the concrete question which would then be put: either proving that in reality the Pope had not 
been a formal and notorious heretic at the moment of election; or showing that afterwards he had been 
converted; or verifying that the acceptation by the Church had not been pacific and universal; or 
presenting any other plausible explanation. 

A more attentive examination of the question would reveal, nevertheless, that even on purely 
theoretical grounds, an important difficulty arises, which would consist in determining precisely what is 
the concept of pacific and universal acceptation by the Church. For such acceptation to have been 
pacific and universal would it be enough that no Cardinal had contested the election? Would it be 
enough that in a Council, for example, almost the totality of the Bishops had signed the acts, recognizing 
in this way, at least implicitly, that the Pope be the true one? Would it be enough that no voice, or 
practically no voice had publicly given the cry of alert? Or, on the contrary, would a certain very 
generalized though not always well defined distrust be sufficient to destroy the apparently pacific and 
universal character of the acceptance of the Pope? And if this distrust became a suspicion in numerous 
spirits, a positive doubt in many, a certainty in some, would the aforementioned pacific and universal 
acceptance subsist? And if such distrusts, suspicions, doubts and certainties cropped out with some 
frequency in conversations or private papers, or now and again in published writings, could one still 
classify as pacific and universal the acceptance of a Pope who was already a heretic on the occasion of 
his election by the Sacred College? 

* * * 

It is not in nature of the present work to try to respond to questions such as these. We only wish 
to formulate them here, asking those who are learned in the matter to clear them up. 

(1) See pp. 185-186. 



Can There Be Error in the Documents of the Pontifical or 
Conciliar Magisterium? 

Many are the reasons which Sacred Theology furnishes us in defense on the thesis that, in 
principle, there can be errors in these documents of the Magisterium which do not fulfill the conditions 
of infallibility (1). 

Such reasons are indeed so many and of such weight, that we deem it sufficient to call attention 
to some of them in order to give the reader a summary view of the matter. 

1. Possibility of Error in Episcopal Documents 

First of all we must note that the Magisterium of the Church is composed of the Pope and the 
Bishops - the only ones authorized to speak officially in the name of the Church, as authentic 
interpreters of Revelation. Priests and theologians do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, under any 
hypothesis, not even when they teach with a canonical mission received from a Pope or a bishop. 

Also the Bishops, when they speak alone or together, can err - unless, in Council or outside of it, 
they define a dogma, solemnly, with the Supreme Pontiff. 

The principle that the Bishops are never infallible in pronouncements which they make without 
the Supreme Pontiff is pacifically received in the doctrine of the Church. In his Pastoral Letter on 
Problems of the Modem Apostolate, Dom Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop of Campos, writes: 

“the Pontifical Magisterium being infallible, and that of each bishop, even though official, fallible, the 
possibility that one or the other bishop fall into error is within the limits of human frailty; and History 
records some of these eventualities” (2). 

Here, then, a conclusion imposes itself: when evident reasons show that a bishop, some bishops in 
concert, or even the whole Episcopate of a country or of a part of the globe, have fallen into error, 
nothing authorizes one of the faithful to embrace this error on the basis of the allegation that it is not licit 
for him to disagree with those who have been placed by Our Lord at the head of his flock. It will be licit 
for him, or even a duty, to disagree with such episcopal teachings. Such disagreement could be even, 
according to the circumstances, public. (3). 

(1) In substance, this chapter reproduces the article which we published in Catolicismo n 223, July 1969. 

(2) D. Antonio de Castro Mayer , Pastoral Letter on Problems of the Modern Apostalate, p. 119- On the 
possibility, admitted by all Catholic authors, of bishops and even entire episcopates falling into error and even into 
heresy, one can consult: Pesch , Prael. Dogm., tomus I. pp. 259-261; Hurter , Theol. Dogm. Comp., tomus I, p. 
263; D’Herbigny, Theol. de Ecc., vol. II, p. 309; Harve ’, Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, p. 485; Salaverri , De Ecc. 
Christ!, p. 682. 

(3) See Chapter XI, pp. 202 ff. 


2. A Definition of Vatican I 

Passing from episcopal documents to the pontifical ones, we shall see initially, that in principle, 
also in one or the other of these there can be some error, even in matter of faith and morals. 

This one deduces from the very definition of pontifical infallibility by the First Council of the 
Vatican. There are established the conditions under which the Pope is infallible. It is easy to 
understand, then, that, when such conditions are not fulfilled, there can be in principle error in a papal 
document (1). 

In other terms, we could say that the simple fact that the documents of the Magisterium are 
divided into infallible and non-infallible ones, leaves open, in thesis, the possibility of error in some one 
of the non-infallible ones. This conclusion is imposed on the basis of the metaphysical principle 
enunciated by Saint Thomas Aquinas: quod possible est non esse, quandoque non est - “what can 
possibly not be, at times is not” (2) 

If, in principle, in a papal document there can be error because of the fact that it does not fulfill 
the four conditions of infallibility, the same thing must be said in relation to the conciliar documents 
which do not fulfill the same conditions. In other words, when a Council does not intend to define 
dogmas, strictly speaking it can fall into errors. Such a conclusion follows from the symmetry existing 
between the pontifical infallibility and that of the Church, stressed by the First Vatican Council itself (3). 

3. Suspension of Internal Assent 

In favor of the thesis that, in principle, there can be error even in pontifical and conciliar 
documents, there also militates the argument that theologians among the most highly regarded admit 
that, in very special cases, a Catholic suspend his assent to a decision of the magisterium. 

As such, pontifical decisions, even when they are not infallible, postulate the external respectful 
silence ( silentium obsequiosum ) and the internal assent of the faithful. Pius XII declared this truth in 
incisive terms: 

“One must not believe, that the teachings of the Encyclicals do not require assent per se, under the 
pretext that the Pontiffs do not exercise in them the power of their supreme Magisterium. Such 
teachings from part of the ordinary Magisterium, to which also apply the words: “He who hears you 
hears me” (Lk. 10, 16)” (4). 

(1) The First Council of the Vatican teaches that the Supreme Pontiff is infallible “when he speaks ex-cathedra, 
that is, when, in the use of his prerogative as Teacher and Pastor of all Christians, and by his supreme apostolic 
authority, he defines a doctrine which in matters of faith and morals must be sustained by all the Church” (Denz.- 
Sch. 3074). On the same matter, see II Vatican Council . Lumen Gentium , n 25. 

(2) St. Thomas Aquinas , Summa Theol., I, q. 2, a. 3, c., “Tertia via”. 

(3) Denz.-Sch. 3074. 

(4) Pius XII , Enc. Humani Generis, p. 11. 


When, however, there would be “a precise opposition between a text of an Encyclical and the 

other testimonies of Tradition” (1) then it would be licit for one of the faithful who is learned and who 

has carefully studied the question, to suspend or deny his assent to the papal document. 

The same doctrine is found among theologians of great authority. Let us cite some of these: 

a. Diakamp: 

“These non infallible acts of the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff do not oblige one to 
believe, and do not postulate an absolute and definitive subjection. But it behooves one to adhere with a 
religious and internal assent to such decisions, since they constitute acts of the supreme Magisterium of 
the Church, and are founded upon solid natural and supernatural reasons. The obligation to adhere to 
them can only begin to terminate in case, and this only occurs very rarely, a man fit to judge such a 
question, after a repeated and very diligent analysis of all the arguments, arrives at the conviction that an 
error has been introduced into the decision” (2). 

b. Pesch: 

“(. . .) one must assent to the decrees of the Roman congregations, as long as it does not 
become positively sure that they have erred. Since the Congregations, per se, do not furnish an 
absolutely certain argument in favor of a given doctrine, one may or even must investigate the reasons 
for that doctrine. And thus, either it will come to pass that such a doctrine will be gradually accepted in 
the whole Church, attaining in this way the condition of infallibility, or it will happen that the error is 
little by little detected. For, since the religious assent referred to is not based on a metaphysical 
certainty, but only a moral and general one, it does not exclude all suspicion of error. For this reason, as 
soon as there arises sufficient motives for doubt, the assent will be prudently suspended: nevertheless, as 
long as such motives for doubt do not arise, the authority of the Congregations is sufficient to oblige one 
to assent. 

The same principles apply without difficulty to the declarations which the Supreme Pontiff emits 
without involving his supreme authority, as well as the decisions of the other ecclesiastical superiors 
who are not infallible” (3). 

c. Merkelbach: 

“(...) When the Church does not teach with her infallible authority, the doctrine proposed is not as such 
unreformable; for this reason, it per accidens, in a hypothesis which is however very rare, after a very 
careful examination of the matter, it appears to someone that there exist very grave reasons contrary to 
the doctrine thus proposed, it will be licit, without falling into temerity, to suspend internal assent (...)” 


(1) Pom Nau . Une Source Doct.: les Enc., p. 83-84. 

(2) Diekamp . Theol. Dogm. Man., Vol. I, p. 72. 

(3) Pesch , Prael. Dogm., vol. I, pp. 314-315. 

(4) Merkelbach , Summa Theol. Mar., vol. I, p. 601 . 


d. Hurter: 

“(...) If grave and solid reasons, above all theological ones, present themselves to the mind of 
one of the faithful, against (decisions of the authentic Magisterium either episcopal or pontifical), it will 
be licit for him to fear error, assent conditionally, or even suspend assent (. . (1). 

e. Cartechini: 

In the hypothesis of non-infallible decisions, “the subject must give his internal assent, except in 
the case in which he has evidence that the thing commanded is illicit (...). (...) If some learned and 
studious person has very grave reasons to suspend his assent, he can do so without temerity and without 
sin (...)” (2). 

The counsel frequently given to the faithful in such cases is that he “suspend judgement” on the 
matter. If this “suspension of judgement” implies an abstention, on the part of the faithful, from the 
taking of any attitude in relation to the pontifical teaching in question, it represents only one of the licit 
positions in the hypothesis under consideration. Indeed, the “suspension of internal assent” of which the 
theologians speak, has a more ample sense than the mere “suspension of judgement” of current 
language. According to the case, the right of “suspending internal assent” admits of the right to fear that 
there be error in the document of the Magisterium, to doubt the teaching contained therein, or even to 
reject it. 

4. There Are those who Do Not Admit the Suspension of Internal Assent 

It would be possible to object to the thesis which we are defending that not all the authors admit 
this suspension of internal assent. Such is the case of Choupin (3), Pegues (4), Salaverri (5). 

However, even these authors do not deny the possibility of error in the documents of the 
Magisterium: “given that the decision does not come guaranteed by infallibility, the possibility of error 
is not excluded” (6). 

They only maintain that the great religious authority of the Pope, the scientific value of his 
advisers, and all the rest which surround the non-infallible documents, counsel one not to suspend 
internal assent, even when a studious person has serious reasons to admit that the pontifical decision 
labors in error. 

There is no reason for us to analyze the position of these theologians in more detail here. For the 
moment it is enough for us to show, as we have done, that even they admit the possibility of error in 
documents of the ordinary Magisterium. 

(1) Hurter , Theol. dogm. Comp., vol. I, p. 492. 

(2) Cartechini , Dall’Op. al Domma, pp. 153-154, - The following authors express the same opinion: Pesch , Comp. 
Theol. Dogma., pp. 238-239; Lerche r, Inst. Theol. Dogm., vol. I, pp. 297-298; Forget , article “Congregations 
Romaines”, in Diet. Theol. Cath., tome III, cols. 1108-1111; Mors , Inst. Theol. Fundam., tome II, p. 187; Aertnys- 
Damen , Theol. Mor.. tomus I, p. 270; Zalba, Theol. Mor. Comp., vol. II, p. 30, note 21 . 

(3) Valeur des Dec. Doct. et Disc, du St. -Siege, pp. 53 ff. and 88 ff.; Motu Proprio Praest., pp. 119 ff.; La Decret 
du St. -Off., pgs. 415-416. 

(4) Article in Revue Thomiste, November-December 1904, p. 531, Cited by Choupin , Valeur des Dec. Doct. Et 
Disc, du St. -Siege. 

(5) De Ecc. Christi, pp 725-726. 

(6) Choupin , Valour des Dec. Doct. Et Disc. Du St. -Siege, p. 54- See Pegues , article in Revue Thomiste, 
November-December 1904, p. 531 : Salaverri . De Ecc. Christi, p. 722. 


As far as the judgement to be made in relation to their thesis, according to which it is never 
permitted to suspend internal assent (1), we do not believe that these authors have directly considered 
the hypothesis of the interplay in the same case of the following factors: 

1) that the real circumstances of the life oblige one of the faithful, in conscience, to take an 
attitude in relation to a problem; 

2) that he has evidence that there is, in this respect, a precise opposition between the teaching of 
the ordinary Magisterium and the other testimonies of Tradition; 

3) that the infallible decision capable of putting an end to the question has not been pronounced. 

In the hypothesis, doctrinally admissible, of the interplay of these three factors, it does not seem to us 
that any theologian might condemn the suspension of internal assent to the non-inf allible decision. To 
condemn it would even be an antinatural and violent act, for it would redound in obliging one to believe, 
contrary to the very evidence, in something which is not guaranteed by the infallibility of the Church. 

5. There Are those who Deny the Possibility of Error in Non-Infallible Documents 

Against the thesis that there could be errors in documents of the ordinary pontifical or conciliar 
Magisterium, there would be room for even another objection: according to some authors of weight, as 
the Cardinals Franzelin and Billot, even the non-infallible documents are guaranteed against any error 
by the assistance of the Divine Holy Spirit (2). 

Thus, the thesis which we are defending could appear at least uncertain, and - one would ask - 
would it not be more consonant with the eminently hierarchical, and even monarchical spirit of the 
organization of the Church, to adopt the opinion of these eminent theologians? Would it not be more in 
accord with the condition of sons of the Church, to admit that even in pronouncements which are not “ex 
cathedra” it would be absurd for error to occur? 

An exhaustive analysis of this question would lead us far beyond the objectives of the present 
work. For this reason, we would only like to show that even Cardinals Franzelin and Billot, as well as 
the theologians who adopt their position, in the ultimate analysis admit the possibility of error in the 
non-infallible documents. 

They start with the presupposition that the documents of the Holy See either teach an infallible 
doctrine, or declare that a determined opinion is secure or not secure. 

(1) See our article “What is the Doctrinal authority of the pontifical and conciliar documents?”, in Catolicismo, n 
202, October 1967, p. 7, col. 1. 

(2) Franzelin , Tract, de Div. Trad. Et Scrip., pp. 1 1 6-1 20; Billot , Tract, de Ecc. Christi, tom. I, pp. 428-434. 


“In these declarations, though the truth of the doctrine not be infallible - granted for the hypothesis there 
is no intention to use the power of the keys - there is an infallible assurance, in that it is secure for all to 
embrace it, and it is not secure to reject it, nor can this be done without violation of the due submission 
to the Magisterium constituted by God” (1). 

Thus, then, these authors sustain that in the non-infallible pronouncements the Magisterium does 
not compromise itself with an affirmation of the truth of the doctrine which it proposes, but sustains only 
that such doctrine does not offer any danger for the faith, in the circumstances of the moment. 

Such theologians recognize clearly that the teaching contained in these documents can be false: 

“the doctrine in favor of which there exists solid probability that it is not opposed to the rule of faith, 
taken in relation to the norm of faith, objectively considered” (2). 

It becomes patent, therefore, that even these authors admit the possibility of error in respect to 
the doctrine contained in documents of the supreme ordinary Magisterium. 

What is one to think about the theory that the non-infallible pronouncements only aim to declare 
that a doctrine is safe or not safe? - Such a theory does not seem to agree with the terms of the majority 
of the documents of the Holy See. In some, it is clear that it is only a question of the safety or the 
danger of a certain doctrine. But in many others - in the Encyclicals, for example - the intention of 
presenting teachings as certain , and not merely secure is manifest. Moreover, the authors in general 
have abandoned this theory (3). 

We do not have room here, however, to analyze minutely the aforementioned position of the 
Cardinals Franzelin and Billot. We only wish to point out that, even according to them, in principle the 
possibility of doctrinal error is not excluded in pontifical and conciliar documents. 

6. Conclusion 

From all that has been expounded one infers that, in principle, the existence of errors, in non- 
infallible documents of the Magisterium is not impossible even in the pontifical and conciliar 

Without doubt, such errors cannot be proposed for a long time in the Holy Church, to the point of 
putting upright souls in the dilemma of accepting the false teaching or breaking with Her. For, if it were 
so, hell would have prevailed against the Church. However, it is possible, in principle, that for some 
time, above all in periods of crisis and of great heresies, some error can be found in documents of the 

(1) Franzelin , Tract, de Div. Trad, et Scrip., loc. cit. 

(2) Billot , Tract, de Ecc. Christi, tome I, p. 430. - The Capitals are ours. 

(3) See Herve , Man. Theol. Dogm. Vol. I, p. 513; Cartechini , Dall’Op. al Domma, Passim; Salaverri , De Ecc. 
Christi, p. 726; Journet , LEglise du Verbe Inc., vol. I, pp. 455-456, who, appealing to the opinion of Card. 
Franzelin , in reality gives, to the words of the old professor of the Gregorian University, an interpretation which 
modifies his thinking entirely. 


As is patent, we do not make such observations with any destructive purpose. We do not seek to 
plant the foundations for the heretic making “contestations” with which the progressivists seek, at every 
moment, to undermine the principle of authority in the Holy Church. 

What we do, indeed seek, by making evident the possibility of error in the non-infallible 
documents, is to help clear up the problems of conscience and studies of many antiprogressivists who, 
because they do not know of such a possibility, frequently feel perplexed. 



Can There Be Heresy in Documents of the Pontifical or Conciliar Magisterium? 

In the previous chapter we have shown that the existence of some error in official non-infallible 
documents of the Magisterium be it episcopal, conciliar or pontifical, is not in principle impossible. 

Here we must carry on our investigations of the matter, asking ourselves if, in principle, beyond 
error there could be some heresy in such documents. 

In order to simplify the treatment of the question, we are going to take it up directly at its most 
thorny point: In principle can one admit the existence of heresy in some official pontifical document, 
though evidently not an infallible one? Or do the Catholic teachers who do not reject the hypothesis of a 
Pope heretic only suggest the possibility of his fall into heresy as a private person ? 

We said that, focusing the question directly in this its thorny point, we would be able to resolve it 
in the most simple manner. Indeed, in case the hypothesis of a Pope teaching some heresy in an official 
document of the Magisterium is not to be excluded in principle, then with equal reason there could be 
heresy in a non-infallible conciliar document (1) and - what all admit and History does not permit one to 
put in doubt - in official pronouncements of bishops. 

1. A Hasty Answer 

A superficial examination of the passages in which the great theologians have treated the 
problem of a Pope heretic, would lead a hasty reader to make, in an immediate and peremptory way, a 
negative answer to the question which we present. 

Really, all the authors whom we know to have studied the hypothesis of a Pope heretic formulate 
the question only in relation to the eventual heresy of the Pontiff as private person . Such being the case, 
it appears inevitable to conclude that it is theologically impossible to have heresy in an official pontifical 
document, that is, in a pronouncement of the Pope as a public person . 

We cite below some texts which indicate well the terms in which the theologians usually 
formulate the question. 

The chapter in which Saint Robert Bellarmine expounds his opinion on the possibility of a Pope 
heretic is entitled: “On the Pontiff as a private person”. And the great Jesuit doctor formulates his 
opinion in the following terms: 

(1) The hypothesis of having some heresy in a non-infallible conciliar document evidently is not confounded with 
the hypothesis that all the Bishops or the entire Church fall into heresy. Indeed, as regards a document which 
does not fulfill all the conditions which would make it infallible, adhesion to it would not be imposed in an absolute 
way on the bishops who had rejected it in the Conciliar session, nor on the Bishops who had been absent from 
that session, nor on the priests and faithful of the entire world. - As is evident, the fall of the whole Catholic world 
into heresy is impossible, for that would contradict frontally the divine promises of assistance to the Holy Church. 


“It is probable and piety permits one to believe that the Supreme Pontiff not only cannot err as Pontiff, 
but also that as a private person he cannot be a heretic believing pertinaciously something false contrary 
to the Faith” (1). 

Suarez writes: 

“Though many sustain, with verisimilitude, (that the Pope can fall into heresy) (...), to me however, in a 
few words, it seems more pious and more probable to affirm that the Pope, as a private person, can err 
through ignorance, but not contumaciously” (2). 

Dominicus Soto, the Dominican of the XVI Century, taught: 

“(...) though some masters of our time sustain that the Pope cannot be a heretic in any way, the common 
opinion is however the opposite one. For though he might not be able to err as Pope - that is, he could 
not define an error as an article of faith, because the Holy Spirit will not permit it - nevertheless as a 
private person he can err in faith, in the same way that he can commit other sins, because he is not 
impeccable” (3) 

The Jesuit moralist Paul Laymann (+ 1625) wrote: 

“It is more probable that the Supreme Pontiff, as a person, might be able to fall into heresy even a 
notorious one, by reason of which he would merit to be deposed by the Church, or rather, declared to be 
separated from her (...). 

Observe however that, though we affirm that the Supreme Pontiff, as a private person, might be able to 
become a heretic and therefore cease to be a true member of the Church, (...) still, while he were 
tolerated by the Church, and publicly recognized as the universal pastor, he would really enjoy the 
pontifical power, in such a way that all his decrees will have no less force and authority than they would 
have if he were truly faithful (...)” (4). 

The canonist Marie-Dominique Bouiz (+1870) expounds his thinking in the following terms (5): 

“In the first place, therefore, we have said that the papal heresy of which we treat here does not 
constitute an evil so grave that it necessarily obliges one to think that Christ would desire the deposition 
of such a Pontiff. We are treating here, really, of exclusively private heresy, that is, professed by the 
Pontiff not as Pastor of the Church and in his papal acts and decrees, but only as a private teacher and 
limited in his papal acts and decrees, but only as a private teacher and limited to his personal sayings and 
writings. Now, since the Pope always teaches the true faith when he defines and pronounces as Pontiff, 
the faithful are sufficiently secure, even though it be known, at the same time, that the Pope himself 
adheres privately to some heresy. All will easily understand that an opinion defended by the Pope as a 
private teacher would be completely lacking in authority, and that he would only have to be obeyed 
when he defined and imposed truths of faith officially and with his pontifical authority” (6). 

(1) Saint Robert Bellarmine , De Rom. Pont., lib. IV, cap. VI. 

(2) Suarez , De Fide, disp. X. Sect. VI, n 11, p. 319- We have already cited this whole text on pp. 147-148. 

(3) Soto , Comm, in IV Sent., dist. 22, q. 2, a. 2, p. 1021 . 

(4) Laymann , Theol. Mor., lib. II, tract. I, cap. VII, pp. 145-146. 

(5) We have already cited this passage, in its context, on p. 158. - Other texts of Bouix in the same sense are 
found in his Tract, de Papa, II, pp. 653, 665, note I. 

(6) Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tom. II, p. 670. 


The neo- scholastic canonist Matthaeus Conte a Coronata, O.M.C., studying the diverse case in 
which the Pope loses the Pontificate, observes that one of them is falling into notorious heresy, and, in 
this respect, he writes: 

“Some authors deny the supposition , that is, that there could be a Roman Pontiff heretic (...). 

However it cannot be proved that the Roman Pontiff, as a private doctor, cannot become a heretic (...)” 

( 1 ). 

* * 

It would be useless to multiply citations. The theologians are unanimous in presenting the 
problem in this manner. The doubt which is raised refers exclusively to the possibility of heresy in the 
Pope as a private person . 

We believe however that he would err who judged that he saw here a decisive argument in favor 
of the thesis that the Catholic Tradition has always excluded, in a absolute way, the possibility of heresy 
in a document of the Pontifical Magisterium. 

This is what one verifies, salvo meliori juclicio , by a more detailed analysis of the matter. 

2. A Forgotten Hypothesis 

The reading of some of the texts which we have just presented, and even more of the ones which 
we shall present shortly, reveals a curious and unexpected fact. On studying the question of a Pope 
heretic, both the ancients as well as the modems have considered only two kinds of Papal acts: the 
infallible pronouncements, and the private ones. The official but not infallible documents do not appear 
to exist. 

Note the argument of Soto: The Pope cannot err as Pope, that is, on defining an article of faith, 
because the Holy Spirit will not permit it; but he can err as a private person. - The great Dominican did 
not consider the third hypothesis: that of the Pope who makes a pronouncement as Pope, but without 
defining an article of faith. 

See also what was argued by Bouix; the heresy of the chief of the Church would not be so grave 
because it would be restricted to his private person, at the same time that one would have to obey him 
without fear of error “when he defined and imposed truths of faith officially and with the pontifical 
authority”. - Now, neither did Bouix consider the third hypothesis; that of a Pope heretic who 
pronounced “officially and with the pontifical authority”, but without “defining and imposing truths of 

(1) Coronata , Inst, luris Can., vol. I, p. 367. 


The same silence about this third hypothesis occurs in the texts which follow, in which now they 
treat of the question of the Pope heretic, now of the pontifical infallibility. 

Cardinal Camilo Mazzella wrote: 

“(...) it is one thing that the Roman Pontiff cannot teach a heresy when speaking ex cathedra (what the 
council of the Vatican defined); and it is another thing that he cannot fall into heresy, that is becomes a 
heretic as a private person. On this last question the Council said nothing, and the theologians and 
canonists are not in agreement among themselves in regard to this” (1). 

Later, the silence of Cardinal Camilo Mazzella about the aforementioned third hypothesis 
becomes even more strange: 

“(...) The Supreme Pontiff can act as teacher in two ways; in a first way, in that which he has in 
common with all the other private teachers, for example on publishing books or theological 
commentaries, like other theologians; in a second manner, when he teaches the whole Church as 
supreme and authentic teacher. In his capacity as private teacher, he does not enjoy any pontifical 
authority, and even less infallibility (...); but as supreme and authentic teacher he is infallible” (2). 

On treating of the pontifical infallibility, the Jesuit theologian Horatio Mazzella wrote: 

By virtue of the gift of infallibility, the Pontiff cannot fall into heresy when he speaks ex cathedra; and 
this was defined in the Vatican Council But the theologians dispute whether he can, as a private person, 
become a true heretic, adhering publicly (3) and pertinaciously to an error against the faith. As is 
evident, we treat (in this chapter on infallibility) of the Pontiff who speaks ex cathedra, and not as a 
private person” (4). 

The words of Dominicus M. Pruemmer, O. P. : 

“It is the common opinion of the authors that for certain and notorious heresy the Pope loses his power, 
but they rightly doubt whether this case be in fact possible. Supposing that the Pope falls into heresy as a 
private man (for as Pope, being infallible, he cannot err in the faith), the divine authors developed 
various opinions to explain how he would be deprived of power; but none of these opinions is more that 
probable” (5). 

Saying that one of the conditions for the Pope to be infallible is that he speaks as a public person, 
the manual of dogmatic theology of the Capuchins Iragui and Abarzuza indicates what the concept of 
public person excludes, thus; 

(1) Card. C. Mazzella , De Relig. et Ecci, p. 817, n. 1045. 

(2) Card. C. Mazzella , De Relig. et Ecci, p. 81 9. 

(3) Note that adhering “publicly” to an error against faith does not signify here, adhering as a public person, but 
rather as a private person, in a document which however comes to the knowledge of the public. 

(4) H. Mazzella , Praetectiones..., vol. I, p. 545. 

(5) Pruemmer , Man. luris. Can., p. 131. 


“Not then as Bishop of a particular church, or as Patriarch of the Occident; in a word, not as a private 
person who converses familiarly about common things, exhorts the people in sermons, publishes 
scientific books, etc.” (1). 

The Dogmatic constitution “Lumen Gentium”, of the II Vatican Council, also presents an 
explanation of pontifical infallibility in which it counterposes the Pope as a private person with the Pope 
when he uses his infallibility. Though shortly before the counsel had treated of the official non- 
infallible pontifical pronouncements, the silence, in this text about the third hypothesis is worthy of 
attention. Here follows the text: 

“(...) his definition (those of the Pope) are irreformable as such and not by virtue of the consent of the 
Church, for they were uttered with the assistance of the Holy Spirit promised to him in the Blessed 
Peter. And for this reason they do not require the approbation of anyone nor do they admit an appeal to 
another tribunal. For, in the case in question, the Roman Pontiff does not speak as a private person, but 
expounds or guards the doctrine of the Catholic Faith as the supreme teacher of the whole Church, in 
whom in a special way resides the charism of infallibility of the Church itself’ (2). 

3. A Gap which Has Already Been Noted 

Undoubtedly, one would not be able to admit that the theologians in general have purely and 
simply left in oblivion the existence of official non-infallible pontifical documents. Nor is this the 
affirmation which we make. We sustain, this yes, that about the concept of “private person” there is a 
certain imprecision in theological writings, and that such imprecision is responsible for the apparent 
exclusion, in the authors who treat the problem, of the possibility of heresy in non-infallible documents 
of the pontifical Magisterium. 

To make our position clear, we make the three following observations: 

1. Firstly, it is to the purpose to reaffirm that even the writings which have the gap pointed out admit 
somewhere the existence of official non-infallible pontifical documents (3). 

2. In the second place, note that numerous documents and treatises recognize in a direct or indirect way, 
that it is in principle possible to have heresy in some non-infallible pronouncement of the pontifical 

In relation to the letters of Pope Honorius to the Patriarch Sergius, for example - letters whose 
official character no one contests - it is common among theologians to find the explanation, presented 
even before the examination of their contents, that they do not compromise the privilege of infallibility 
because they are not “ex cathedra” documents. Now, such an explanation would be inoperative if it 
were altogether impossible to have any heresy in official non-infallible pontifical documents. An 
analogous explanation is given in the other cases, which History records, of papal pronouncements 
suspected of heresy (4). 

(1) Iragui, Man. Theol. Dogm. Vol. I, p. 429. 

(2) II Council of the Vatican , Lumen Gentium, n. 25. 

(3) See, for example: II Council of the Vat ., Lumen Gentium, n. 25; Laymann , Theol. Mor., lib. II, tract. I, cap. VII, 
p. 146; Camillo Mazzella , De Reiig. et Eccl. P. 819; Horacio Mazzella , Praelectlones..., vol. I, pp. 551-552. 

(4) In respect to this, one can see: Diakamp-Hoffman , Th. Dogm. Man., II, pp. 270-271; D’Herbiqny , Theol. de 
Ecc\., II, p. 319; Hurter , Theol. Dogm. Comp., I, p. 422; Lercher , Inst. Th. Dogm., I, p. 294; Horatius Mazzella . 
Prael. Sch. Dogm., I, p. 552; Tanquerev , Syn. Th. Dogm. Fund., I, pp. 599; Herve , Man. Theo.Dogm., I, p. 481; 
Iragui , Man. Th. Dogm., I, pp. 440-441: Ott. Manual de Teol. Dogm., p. 438; Salaverri , De Eccl. Christi, pp. 666, 


Moreover in relation to the letters of Pope Honorius, it must be observed that Adrian II, and with 
him the Roman synod and the VIII Ecumenical Council, admitted that in them there was heresy. It is 
true - as Saint Robert Bellarmine observes (1) - that probably Adrian II was mistaken in his evaluation 
of the concrete case; it is certain, nevertheless, that he and the assemblies we cited judged it possible for 
there to be heresy in the aforementioned letters (2). 

3. In the third place, it is very important to observe that the imprecision with which many employ the 
expression “private teacher” had already been pointed out by the theologians. Below we give some 
examples worthy of note. 

Immediately after showing that the Pope can make a pronouncement without involving his 
infallibility, Palmieri writes; 

“In this hypothesis, one who speaks of him as a “private teacher” does not speak with sufficient 
propriety, for, while he does not speak with the plenitude of his authority, he speaks however with 
authority; for this reason, when he makes a pronouncement in this form the Roman Pontiff cannot be 
lowered to the category of any private teacher who has no authority” (3). 

In the Dictionaire de Theologie Catholique article “Infaillibilite du Pape”, Dublanchy shows that 
there are non-infallible pontifical teachings, to which the faithful must however morally adhere (4). 
Refuting one possible objection against the principle that there exist much official but non-infallible 
pontifical pronouncements, he writes; 

“It is true that in the XVI century and in those that follow many theologians frequently give one to 
understand that the Pope speaks as a private doctor when he does not teach infallibly as Pontiff . As 
Saint Robert Bellarmine {De Romano Pontifice, lib. IV, cap. XXII) (5); Banez ( Comment-aria in 11-11, q. 
1, a.10, dub. II, Venise, 1602, p. 127) (6). But if one examines attentively all those assertions, which are 
besides frequently contradictory on account of totally opposing assertions, it is easy to verify that it is 
only a matter of answers given in passing to certain historical objections, without it having been 
intended to establish by this a doctrine applicable in a general way to all the cases in which the pontifical 
infallibility does not exist” (7). 

* * * 

How can one explain such a lack of precision in the concept of “private doctor” in theologians of 
such authority? We believe that the explanation is to be found in the fact that only since the XIX 
Century have the official non-infallible pronouncements of the Pope become object of more profound 
studies (8). Before that, the matter was undoubtedly treated, but in a not very explicit and clear way; for 
this reason certain less appropriate expressions were employed (9), which the more recent authors have 
still not defined exactly or even duly rectified. 

(1) Seep. 154. 

(2) See pp. 149-150. 

(3) Palmieri , Tract, de Rom. Pont., p. 632. 

(4) Cols. 1709 ff. 

(5) We believe there is a mistake in the indication of chapter XXII, which does not treat of this matter. What Dublanchy says is found in 
chapters VI and VII. 

(6) Observe that both the text cited from Saint Robert Bellarmine (admitted the mistake pointed out in our previous note) as well as that of 
Banez treat of the question of the Pope heretic. 

(7) Dublanchy . article “Infaillibilite du Pape”, in Diet, de Theol. Cath., col 1710. 

(8) “This non-infallible doctrinal authority (of the Supreme Pontiff) was affirmed particularly in the second half of the XIX Century” - 
Dublanchy . article “infaillibilite du Pape”, in Diet, de Theol. Cath., Col. 1710. 

(9) Other expressions of little precision used in treating this subject are: dogma, heresy, define, solemn definition, extraordinary Magisterium, 
and anathema (see our articles: “What is the authority of the documents of the pontifical and conciliar Magisterium?”, “Not only heresy can be 
condemned by the ecclesiastical authority” and “Can a Catholic reject Humanae Vitae?”, in numbers 202, 203 and 212-214, respectively of the 
monthly Catolicismo of October of 1 967, November of 1 967, and August-October of 1 968). 


4. A Hypothesis which Still Stands 

In consideration of the reasons expounded, we do not see how to exclude, in principle, the 
hypothesis of heresy in an official document of the pontifical or conciliar Magisterium which does not 
include the conditions which would make it infallible. 

Consequently, if some time a heresy were found in an official non-infallible pontifical or 
conciliar document, one would not have to conclude, with that, that the Holy Spirit and failed his 
Church. Nor would the absurdity of the hypothesis oblige one to find, at whatever cost, a non heretical 
interpretation for the text indicated as being opposed to the faith. Nor would one apply the celebrated 
saying of Saint Ignatius in these circumstances: 

“that which appeared to us as white, we would hold to be black, if the Holy Church declared it so” (1). 

In conclusion: the admirable Ignatian principle, complete expression of faith in the infallibility 
of the Magisterium which involve infallibility. But he would be wanting in the very “feeling with the 
Church” who attributed to this saying a comprehension which Catholic doctrine does not justify - 
interpreting it for example, in the sense that one must accept always and unconditionally, even against 
the evidence, each and every non-infallible teaching on the ecclesiastical Magisterium. 

(1) Saint Inqatius of Loyola , Spiritual Exercises, rule n. 13 for thinking with the Church. 



Public Resistance to Decisions of Ecclesiastical Authority 

The Church teaches that, in the face of an erroneous decision of the ecclesiastical authority, it 
can happen that it be not only licit for the enlightened Catholic to deny his assent to this decision, but 
also, in certain extreme cases, to oppose them even in public. Furthermore, such opposition may 
constitute a true obligation (1). 

A. Bishops and Lower Ecclesiastical Authorities 

In taking up this matter, we prefer not to mix our voice with those of the great Saints and of the 
theologians approved in the Holy Church. Such being the case, in the present item and in the one which 
follows, we shall limit ourselves to reproducing what some of them have said. To them we shall leave 
the charge of teaching us not only the extension of the theses which they defend, but also which are the 
arguments upon which they are founded. 

We shall not occupy ourselves, except in passing, with the principle according to which it is licit 
to resist, even publicly, those Bishops and lower ecclesiastical authorities who, by their evil doctrine, 
their scandalous life or their iniquitous decrees, endanger the faith and the salvation of souls. So many 
are the examples, in the history of the Church, of Saints who have raised their voices against evil 
shepherds, that the difficulty would rather consist in selection from among the many proofs of the 
legitimacy of such a procedure, Among the theologians there is no doubt in respect to this matter. 

Here are some texts which refer to the legitimacy of public resistance to episcopal authority: 

a. D. Gueranger, Writing about Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the outstanding adversary of 
nestorianism, Dom Proper Gueranger, Abbot of Solesmes, teaches: 

“When the pastor becomes a wolf, it is the flock in the first place, which has the duty to defend itself. 
Normally, undoubtedly, doctrine comes down from the Bishops to the faithful, and subjects, in the 
domain of faith, must not judge their chiefs. But there are, in the treasury of Revelation, 

(1) In substance, this chapter reproduces the article which we published in the monthly Catolicismo under the 
same title, n 224, August 1969. 


essential points which every Christian, by virtue of his very title of Christian, necessarily knows and has 
an obligation to defend” (1). 

b. Herve, In analyzing the divers factors which contribute to an even greater explicitation of 
dogma in the course of the centuries, Herve eulogizes the opposition mounted by the faithful against 
Nestorius, the heretical Patriarch of Constantinople: 

“By an instinct of the Holy Spirit, the faithful may be led to a better understanding and belief in respect 
to what increases piety and worship, favoring in this way the progress of dogma. Indeed, the murmuring 
of the faithful against Nestorius was a great help toward the definition of the Divine Maternity of the 
Most Holy Virgin (...)” (2). 

c. D. Antonio de Castro Mayer, The illustrious Bishop of Campos published recently a 
document in which he called to mind the traditional doctrine on the right of resistance to Iniquitous 
ecclesiastical authorities. It was in a letter of approbation of the magnificent “ Vademecum of the faithful 
Catholic”. In which four hundred priests of different countries, combating progressivism, expounded 
the principles of the true Catholic Faith and invited the faithful to oppose the new heresy which today 
invades the whole world. In his letter of approbation to this Vademecum, the Lord Bishop of Campos 
declares it most opportune and adds: 

“(. . .) let no one come and say to us that it is not for the faithful - as the Vademecum proclaims - to pass 
judgement on what is happening in the Church; that it is for them only to follow docilely the orientation 
given by the Ministers of the Lord. 

It is not true. The History of the Church eulogizes the attitude of the faithful of Constantinople who 
opposed the heresy of their Patriarch Nestorius”. 

Afterwards, D. Antonio de Castor Mayer cites the text of Dom Gueranger which we reproduce 


B. “I Resisted Him to His Face, Because He Merited Reprehension” 

Would it be legitimate, in extreme cases, to resist even decisions of the Sovereign Pontiff? 

In answering this question, we shall transcribe only documents 

(1) D. Gueranger , L’Anne” Lit., Feast of St. Cyril of Alexandria, pp. 340-341. 

(2) Herve , Man. Theol. Dogm., vol. Ill, p. 305. 


which are related to public resistance because, if in certain circumstances this is legitimate, with greater 
reason it would be legitimate to oppose a papal decision privately. No author, of whom we have heard, 
has ever raised any doubt about the right of such private resistance. This can be done in two ways: 
manifesting to the Holy See the objections that there be against the document; or by means of what is 
called “fraternal correction”, that is, by means of an observation made in private, with the object of 
obtaining the amendment of the fault committed (1). 

We shall pass on to the texts which admit public resistance in very special cases: 

a. Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Angelic Doctor teaches, in various of his works, that in extreme cases it 
is licit to publicly resist a papal decision, as Saint Paul resisted Saint Peter to his face: 

“(...) when there is a proximate danger for the faith, prelates must be questioned even publicly by their 
subjects. Thus, Saint Paul who was a subject of Saint Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an 
imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Gloss of Saint Augustine says, “Saint Peter 
himself gave an example to those who govern, so that if the latter should ever depart from the right path, 
they will not refuse correction coming even from their subjects as being injurious to their dignity” (ad 
Gal. 2. 14)” (2). 

In his commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, on studying the episode in which St. Paul 
resisted St. Peter to his face, St. Thomas writes: 

“The rebuke was just and useful, and its motive was not light: it was a question of a danger to the 
preservation of the evangelical truth (...) 

The manner in which the rebuke was given was appropriate, for it was public and manifest. For this 
reason St. Paul writes: “I spoke to Cephas”, that is, to Peter, “Before all”, because the simulation 
practiced by St. Peter created a danger for all. - In I Tim. 5, 20, we read: as to those who sin, let them 
be rebuked before all”. This has to be understood of manifest sins, and not of the hidden sins, because 
in case of the latter one must proceed according to the order which is proper to fraternal correction” (3). 

Saint Thomas observed further that the passage from the Scripture referred to contains 
instructions both for superiors as well as for subjects: 

“to superiors (was given an example) of humility, so that they might not refuse to accept rebuke on the 
part of their 

(1) On private resistance to decisions of the Pope or of the Roman Congregations, one may consult: St. Thomas 
Aquinas , in IV Sent., dist, 19, q. 2, a. 2; “Summa Theol,”, ll-ll, 33, 4; Suarez , Def. Fidel Cath., lib. IV cap. VI, nn. 
14-18; Pesch , Prael. Dogm., tomus I, pp. 314-315; Bouix , Tract, de Papa, tomus II, pp. 635 ff.: Hurter , Theol. 
Dogm. Comp., tomus I, pp. 491-492; Peinador , Cursus Brev. Theol. Mor., tomus II, vol. I, pp. 286-287; Salaverri , 
De Ecc. Christi, pp. 725-726. 

(2) St. Thomas Aquinas , Summa Theol., ll-ll, 33, 4, 2. 

(3) St. Thomas Aquinas , ad Gal., 2, 11-14, lect. Ill, nn. 83-84. 


inferiors and subjects; and to the subjects (was given) an example of zeal and liberty, so that they would 
not be afraid to correct their superiors above all when the crime was public and redounded in danger for 
many” (1). 

b. Vitoria. The eminent Dominican theologian of the XVIth Century writes: 

“Cajetan, in the same work in which he defends the superiority of the Pope over the Council, says in 
Chap. XXVII: “Then, one must resist to his face a Pope who publicly destroys the Church, for example 
not wishing to confer ecclesiastical benefices except for money or in exchange for services; and one 
must deny, with all obedience and respect, the possession of such benefices to those who have bought 

And Sylvester (Prierias), at the word Papa, 4, asks: “What must one do when the Pope, by his evil 
customs, destroys the Church?” And in 15: “What must one do if the Pope wishes, without cause, to 
abrogate positive law?” To this, he responds: “He would certainly sin; one should not permit him to 
carry on like this, nor should one obey him in that which is evil; but one should resist him with a 
courteous rebuke”. 

Therefore, if he wished to hand over all the treasure of the Church or the patrimony of Saint Peter to his 
family, if he wished to destroy the Church, or other similar things, one should not permit him to act in 
this way, rather one would be obliged to resist him. The reason for this is that he does not have power to 
destroy; therefore, it being clear that he does, it is licit to resist him. 

From all of this it follows that, if the Pope, by his orders and his acts, destroys the Church, one can resist 
him and impede the execution of his commands (...). 

A second proof of the thesis. According to natural law it is licit to repel violence with violence. Now, 
with such orders and dispensations, the Pope does violence, because he acts against the law, as was 
proven above. Then, it is licit to resist him. As Cajetan observes, we do not affirm all this in the sense 
that someone has the right to be judge of the Pope or authority over him, but rather in the sense that it is 
licit to defend oneself. Anyone, indeed, has the right to resist an unjust act, to try to impede it and to 
defend himself’ (2). 

c. Suarez: 

“If (the Pope) lays down an order contrary to right customs one does not have to obey him; if he tries to 
do something manifestly opposed to justice and to the common good, it would be licit to resist him; if he 
attacks by force, he could be 

(1) St. Thomas Aquinas , ad Gal., 2, 11-14, lect. Ill, n 77. 

(2) Vitoria , Obras de Francisco de Vitoria , pp. 486-487. 


repelled by force, with the moderation characteristic of a just defense (cum moderamine inculpatae 
tutelae)” (1). 

d. Saint Robert Bellarmine: 

“(• . .) just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff who attacks the body, so also it is licit to resist him who 
attacks souls, or who disturbs the civil order, or, above all, him who tried to destroy the Church. I say 
that it is licit to resist him by not doing what her orders and by impeding the execution of his will; it is 
not licit, however, to judge him, to punish him or depose him, for these acts proper to a superior” (2). 

e. Conelius a Lapide. The illustrious exegete shows that, according to St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, 

St. Bede, St. Anselm and many other Fathers, the resistance of St. Paul to St. Peter was public. 

“so that in this way the public scandal given by Saint Peter was remedied by the rebuke which 
was also public” (3). 

After analyzing the divers theological and exegetical questions raised by the attitude assumed by 
St. Paul, Cornelius a Lapide writes: 

“that superiors can be rebuked, with humility and charity, by their subjects, in order that the truth be 
defended, is what St. Augustine (Epist. 19), St. Cyprian, St. Gregory, St. Thomas and the others cited 
above declare on the basis of this passage (Gal. 2, 11). They clearly teach that St. Peter, being superior, 
was reprimanded by St. Paul (...). Rightly, then, did St. Gregory say (Homil. 18 in Ezech.): “Peter held 
his tongue in order that, being the first in the apostolic hierarchy, he would be also the first in humility”. 
And St. Augustine wrote (Epist. 19 ad Hieronymum): “Teaching that the superiors should not refuse to 
let themselves be reprimanded by their subjects, St. Peter left to posterity an example more unusual and 
more holy than that which St. Paul left on teaching that, in defense of the truth, and with charity it is 
given to the juniors to have the boldness to resist their elders without fear” (4). 

f. Wernz-Vidal. Citing Suarez, the work his Canonicum, of Wernz-Vidal, admits that, in 
extreme cases, it is licit to resist a bad Pope: 

“The just means to be employed against a bad Pope are, according to Suarez ( Defensio Fidei Catholicae, 
lib. IV, cap. 6. 

(1) Suarez , De Fide, disp. X, sect. VI, n. 16. 

(2) St. Robert Bellarmine . De Rom. Pont., lib. II, c. 29. 

(3) Cornelius a Lapide , ad Gal. 2, II. 

(4) Cornelius a Lapide , ad Gal. 2, II. 


nn. 17-18), the more abundant help of the grace of God, the special protection of one’s guardian Angel, 
the prayer of the Church Universal, admonition or fraternal correction in secret or even in public, as well 
as legitimate defense against aggression whether it be physical or moral” (1). 

g. Peinador. The authors of our days adopt as their own the assertions of the classical authors, 
about the matter which we are analyzing. Thus it is that Peinador, citing large sections from St. Thomas, 

“(...) “a subject also can be obliged to the fraternal correction of his superior” (S. Theol. D-D, 33, 4). 
For the superior also can be spiritually needy, and there is nothing to prevent that he be liberated from 
such need by one of his subjects. Nevertheless, “in a correction by which subjects reprehend their 
prelates, it behooves them to act in an appropriate manner, that is, not with insolence and asperity, but 
with meekness and reverence” ( S . Theol., ibidem). Therefore, in general the superior must always be 
admonished privately. “Keep in mind however that, when there is approximate danger for the faith, 
prelates must be censured even publicly, by their subjects” (, S . Theol., D-D, 33, 4, 2)” (2). 

C. A Divergence which We Consider Only Apparent 

As we see, the authors who declare that it is licit in extraordinary cases to oppose, even publicly, 
some erroneous decisions of the ecclesiastical authority and of the very Roman See itself are numerous 
and of great importance. And if we add to this the historical examples of Saints who proceeded in this 
way, we shall conclude that this is a thesis which is accepted without discussion in the Holy Church. 

However there is a fact which according to some takes away from this thesis its pacific character: 
in works both of dogmatic theology and of moral theology, it is frequent - and even common - to find 
the opinion that it is never licit for one of the faithful to break his respectful silence ( silentium 
obsequioaum) in relation to a papal document, even when there is evidence that there is some error in 
the latter. 

In a previous work, we have already taken up the delicate question of breaking the respectful 
silence (3). Just to set out the fundamental points of the problem, we shall resume rapidly that which we 
wrote then: 

1. a document of the Magisterium is only infallible by itself 

(1) Wernz-Vidal , lus Canon., vol. II, p. 436. 

(2) Peinador , Cursus Brevior Theol. Mor., tomus II, vol. I, p. 287. - For further consultation in this matter, one 
may also see: St. Thomas Aquinas , in IV Sent., d. 19, q. 2, a. 2, ql. 3, sol. et ad 1; Suarez . De Legibus, lib. IX, 
cap. XX. nn. 19-29; Def. Fidei Cath., lib. IV, cap. VI, nn. 14-18; Reiffenstuel , Theol. Mor., tract. IV, dist. VI, q. 5, 
nn. 51-54, pp. 162-163; Mavol , Praeamb. ad Dec., tomus XIII, q. Ill, a. 4, col. 918; Gury-Ballerini , Comp. Theol. 
Mor., tomus I, pp. 222-227; Card. C. Mazzella , De Relig. et Ecc. pp. 747-748; Urdanoz , Coment. on Vit., pp. 426- 

(3) See our article “Pode haver erro en documentos do Magisterio?” ( Catolicismo , n. 223, July 1969), which we 
reproduce substantially in Chapter IX of the present study (pp. 1 88 ft.). 


when it fulfills the conditions made explicit by the first Council of the Vatican (1); 

2. the documents which do not fulfill those conditions are not by themselves infallible, and can 
therefore, in principle, and in very rare cases, contain some error; 

3. the hypothesis that a learned person, after a very careful examination of a particular document 
of the non-infallible magisterium, come upon evidence that there is some error in it, is not therefore to 
be excluded, in principle. 

4. In this case, it will be necessary to proceed with circumspection and humility, employing all 
reasonable means to clear up the question, the most outstanding of these being representations to the 
organism of the magisterium from which the document emanated: 

5. if after all advisable means have been employed, the evidence of error persists, it would be 
licit to suspend, in this point, the internal assent which the document by itself demands. 

* * * 

And here is planted the question which occupies us now: would it be licit also, at least in 
extreme cases, to refuse to the pontifical declaration external submission, that is, the so called respectful 
silence ? In other words: would it, in any circumstances be licit to oppose externally , perhaps even 
publicly , a document of the Roman Magisterium? 

It is in the answer to this question that the authors apparently differ. 

On the one hand, indeed, great theologians, as those cited above, admit in principle that, in 
certain circumstances, one of the faithful has the right and even the obligation of “resisting Peter to his 
face”. On the other hand, eminent theologians appear to maintain that under absolutely no hypothesis 
would it be licit to break the so-called respectful silence . 

However, before proposing the solution which we believe conciliates the opinions of the former 
and the latter, we would like to place before the eyes of the reader some characteristic texts which 
appear to close off any way whatever of breaking the respectful silence . 

D. The Respectful Silence Appears to Be Always Required 

a. Straub expounds the question thus: 

(1) See our article “Qual a autoridade dos documentos pontificos e conciliares?”, in Catolicismo, n. 202, October 
1967, item “que e un pronounciamento pontificio ex cathedra ?” (“What is a pontifical ex cathedra 


“it can happen, per accidens, that (...) to someone the decree appears to be certainly false or opposed to 
an argument so solid (...), that the force of this argument will not be in any way annulled by the weight 
of the sacred authority; (...) in the first hypothesis, it would be licit to dissent ; in the second, it would be 
licit to doubt , or even to hold as probable an opinion which disagrees with the sacred decree; however, 
in view of the reverence due to the sacred authority, IT WOULD NEVER BE LICIT TO 

b. Merkelbach. In the Summa Theologiae Moralis , Merkelbach closes his examination of the 
matter with the following words: 

“if per accidens , in a case which however would be most rare , after a very careful examination, it 
appears to someone that there exist very grave arguments against a doctrine proposed in this way, it 
would be licit, without rashness, to suspend internal assent; externally , however, THE RESPECTFUL 
SILENCE WOULD BE OBLIGATORY, on account of the reverence which is owed to the Church” (2). 

c. Mors. Father Jose Mors defines the “respectful silence” in the following way: 

“it is external and reverential submission to the ecclesiastical authority; it consists in that nothing be said 
(in public) against its decrees. Such silence is demanded by the respect owed to the ecclesiastical 
authority and for the good of the Church, EVEN IN THE CASE IN WHICH THE CONTRARY WERE 

And Father Mors, after expounding the traditional doctrine of the assent which is due to the 
documents of the Magisterium concludes: 

“However, if there were truly evident arguments against the decree, the obligation of internal assent 
EXIST. Such a case, however, would not occur easily” (4). 

d. Zalba: 

“Per accidens, internal assent could be denied in case the error (of the teaching of a Roman 
Congregation) were known with certainty; in the same way, it would be licit to doubt, 

(1) Straub , De Ecc. Christi, vol II. 968; see Salaverri . De Ecc. Christi, p. 725. - The capitals are ours. 

(2) Merkelbach , Summa Theot. Mor., vol. I, p. 601 . - The capitals are ours. 

(3) Mors , Inst. Theol. Fundam., tomus II, p. 187. - The capitals are ours. 

(4) Mors , Inst. Theol. Fundam., tomus II, p. 187. - The capitals are ours. 


when there were truly solid reasons to do so. But, both in one case as in the other, IT BEHOOVES ONE 

E. Two Enlightening Examples 

Would there be a true contradiction between the opinion of the theologians who defend the 
lawfulness, in very rare cases, of publicly resisting papal decisions, and of those who declare that it is 
always licit to break the respectful silence ? Would these be two different orientations which really and 
effectively divide the authors? 

We do not believe that. A considered analysis of the question will show that it is easy to 
harmonize the two opinions - which therefore, as we see it, are only contradictory in appearance. 

Indeed, it is frequent in theology, above all in Moral theology - and our case is rather of the 
moral order than the dogmatic - to encounter affirmations which are general, decisive, and absolute, but 
which still do not have the universal force which they appear to have. The author resolves the question 
in principle, not considering all the very rich casuistry which could bring about greater precision in the 
solution which is proposed. Or, to resolve a concrete case, he presents his conclusion in abstract and 
general terms, which can lead one to believe - contrary to his own most intimate opinion - that the norm 
which is enunciated admits of no exceptions. 

Two examples will make the understanding of the fact to which we allude easier. Let us take, on 
the one hand, the apparent condemnation of private property by Fathers of the Church and medieval 
authors; and, on the other, the prohibition of loans for interest, by St. Thomas Aquinas, and by the 
classic theologians in general. 

1. Apparent Condemnation of Private Property 

Saint Ambrose wrote: 

‘‘Nature gives her goods to all in common. God ordained that things be made in such a way that food be 
common to all and that the land be the common property to all” (2). 

In addition to this, various Fathers of the Church and the Corpus 

(1) Zalba , Theol. Mor. Com., vol. II, p. 30, note 21. - The following also express the same opinion: Tanquerev , 
Syn. Theol. Dogm., tomus I, p. 640; Choupin , Valeur des Dec. Doctr. et Disc, du St. Siege, p. 91 ; Cartechini , Dali 
‘Op. at Domma, p. 154. 

(2) St. Ambrosius , De Offic., lib. 1, c. 28, cited by Cathrein, Phil. Mor., n. 457. 


Juris Canonici declared that it is not licit for anyone to say: “this is mine”, because nature made all 
things for all (1). 

Such affirmations, so general and absolute, do not however have the universal force they would 
appear to have. The very Fathers who formulated them, in other passages affirm clearly the legitimacy 
of private property (2). In the texts under consideration, the aforementioned Fathers either thought to 
combat an excessive attachment to material goods: or they thought to affirm the principle that, in case of 
extreme necessity, the common destination of the goods takes precedence over the right of ownership; or 
they sought to emphasize other principles of Catholic doctrine about the limits of the right of property. 

What is certain, however, is that their affirmation contrary to the individual possession of 
material goods do not have the absolute force which a superficial reader could attribute to them (3). 

2. Apparent Condemnations of All and Every Loan for Interest 

Another very enlightening example, of the phenomenon to which we allude, is that of the 
condemnation, by the classical theologians, of loans for interest. Saint Thomas, for example, writes in a 
peremptory fashion: “to receive interest for a loan of money is in itself unjust” (4). The absolute 
character of the assertion appears to indicate that, for the Angelic Doctor, in each and every historical 
situation loaning for interest would be immoral. 

Now, a careful analysis of the writings of Saint Thomas and of the classic theologians in general, 
show that they prohibited interest because they considered money a simple instrument destined for the 
facilitation of exchanges. In modern economics, however, the function of money has been increased 
tremendously. In addition to facilitating exchanges, it has come to represent the goods themselves for 
which it can be exchanged at any moment: 

“he who is the owner of money - writes Cathrein - possesses, not formally, but equivalently, all that in 
concrete can be acquired with that money” (5). 

That being the case, loans at interest have today a character fundamentally different from that 
which they had in the Middle Ages, equivalent in a certain way to rents and leases. The moralists do not 
hesitate, thus, in declaring that Saint Thomas, in spite of his absolute affirmation to the contrary, would 
not condemn interest in an economic order like this in which we live (6). 

(1) See Cathrein , Phil. Mor., n 457. 

(2) See Cathrein , Phil. Mor., n. 457; Schwalm , in Diet, de Theol. Cath., article “Communisme”, tome III, cols. 579 
ff; Urdanoz , Comment, on Suma Teol., tome VIII, p. 480. 

(3) See Cathrein , Phil. Mor., n 457 Schwalm , in Diet, de Theol. Cath., article “Communisme”, tome III, cols. 585- 
586; Peinador , Cursus Brevior Theol. Mor., tomus II, vol I, 264, note 27; Urdanoz , Comment, on Suma Teol., vol. 
VIII, pp. 479-481. 

(4) St. Thomas Aquinas , Summa Theol., Il-ll, 78, 1, c. 

(5) Cathrein , Phil. Mor., n. 498. 

(6) See: Cathrein , Phil. Mor., pp. 344-351; Tanquerev , Syn. Theol. Mor. et Past., tomus III, pp. 445-448; Du 
Passage, in Diet, de Theol. Cath., article “Usure”, tome XV, cols. 2382-2390; Peinador , Cursus Brevior Theol. 
Mor., tomus II, vol. II, pp. 266 ft.; Urdanoz , Comment, on Suma Teol., tomo VIII, p. 688. 


F. Resolving an Apparent Disagreement 

This being so, we invite the reader to review carefully the passages quoted above, or any others 
in which the theologians declare it to be always illicit to break the respectful silence . The text and the 
context of such passages make it clear that in them was established only a general principle, valid for 
ordinary cases. They did not consider, there, hypotheses which are admissible, but rare and 
extraordinary, which rather pertain to casuistry, as are those which Saint Thomas Aquinas and the other 
authors cited before had in mind. The did not consider, for example: 

1 . the case of an error which occasions for the Christian people “approximate danger for the faith” (as 
was the case, Saint Thomas explained, in the episode in which Saint Paul resisted Saint Peter to his 

2. the case of an error which constitutes an aggression against souls (the expression of Saint Robert 

* * * 

In other words, the reading of the passages in which the authors declare each and every breaking 
of the respectful silence prohibited, shows that they considered only the case of someone who, “in sede 
doctrinaria”, that is, entirely in the realm of theological speculation, diverges from a point in a 
magisterial document. They do not intend, by this, to declare that also in the practical order, in the 
solution of a concrete case of conscience which afflicts one of the faithful, it would always be illicit to 
act publicly contrary to a decision of the magisterium. 

If these authors then, were faced with “approximate danger for the faith: (Saint Thomas), we can 
maintain with all assurance that they also, following in the foot- steps of the Angel of the Schools - not 
to say those of Saint Paul - would authorize a public resistance. 

If they found themselves faced with an aggression against souls (Saint Robert Bellarmine) or a 
“public scandal” (cf. Cornelius a Lapide) in a doctrinal matter; or a Pope who had “departed from the 
right Path” (Saint Augustine) by his erroneous and ambiguous teachings; or “a public crime” which 
redounded in peril for the faith of many (Saint Thomas) - how would they be able to deny the right of 
resistance and, if necessary, of public resistance? 

* * * 

In our opinion the explanation - which could occur to some - that the aforementioned 
disagreement among the authors would be resolved 


by the distinction between disciplinary and doctrinal decisions would be absolutely insufficient and even 
erroneous. According to this explanation it would be licit to resist the former but not the latter. Such an 
explanation appears erroneous to us for two principal reasons: 

1. The arguments presented by the first group of authors cited hold for both doctrinal and disciplinary 
decisions. The first and the second can, for example, occasion the “proximate danger for the faith” on 
which Saint Thomas based his reasoning. And on the other hand, the arguments of the second group of 
authors also hold for the disciplinary decision as well as the doctrinal ones. If the “respect due to the 
sacred authority”, for example, demands an absolute silence in presence of erroneous doctrinal 
decisions, why does it not demand it in the face of unjust disciplinary decrees? 

2. Once one admits the possibility of doctrinal error in documents of the magisterium - a possibility that 
which in principle one does not see how to exclude (1) - it is unquestionable that also in the doctrinal 
order there would be room for very grave cases of conscience, which would make the resistance of one 
of the faithful licit or even obligatory. To sustain the contrary would be to ignore or to deny the 
fundamental role of faith in the Christian life. 

(1) See our article “Pode haver erro em documentos do Magisterio?” ( Catoiicismo , n. 223, July of 1969), which is 
reproduced in its essential features as Chapter IX of the present work (pp. 188 ff.). 



The New Mass and the Catholic Conscience 

In view of the considerations which have been presented, one is forced to the conclusion that the 
New Mass cannot be accepted either in its text of 1969 or in that of 1970. 

We make this observation with the greatest regret, knowing full well the consequences that flow 
therefrom; but we make it also with full conviction. It is not necessary to expound once again here all 
the reasons which have led us to this conclusion; we wish however to emphasize one, which in our 
opinion has not been duly enfocused in previous debates about the Orclo of Paul VI. That is, the 
principle that a formal break with the customs founded on the Apostolic Tradition, above all in matters 
of worship, involves schism (1). Now, a liturgy tending to “desacralization” has no basis in Tradition; 
on the contrary, it constitutes a formal and violent break with all the rules which have oriented Catholic 
worship up to now. 

* * * 

Considering specifically the modifications introduced in 1970 in the New Mass, we must make 
the following observations: 

1. The intention to eliminate the very widespread uneasiness caused by the absolute silence of 
the text of 1969 in relation to the fundamental terms of the traditional exposition of eucharistic doctrine, 
namely, “transubstantiation”, “real presence” and “propitiation” is obvious, above all in the Prologue. It 
is licit to ask here to what extent the corrections and the additions introduced there removed the basis of 
that uneasiness. 

The Prologue was so sparing in the use of those words that one could almost call it reluctant. It 
introduced only those expressions absolutely indispensable to prevent one from saying that those words 
were still absent from the Institutio. By no means, however, could one affirm that they appear here 
expressing their respective concepts in such a manner as to avoid any equivocation, as the very nature of 
these matters and the good of souls would postulate. 

This situation in which the terms thus introduced appear in the text of the Institutio , which one 
could in a certain sense call a state of violence, inevitably suggests the impression that they are there as a 
concession. A concession made in the degree that it was indispensable and as it were unwillingly, 
revealing the note of instability inherent to all states of violence and all concessions in which the heart 
does not participate. 

2. The corrections which were made in 1970 were not complete, but, on the contrary in addition 
to leaving intact many passages 

(1) Seep. 179 ff. 


susceptible of fundamentally grave reservations, they introduced even new and inadmissible ambiguities 
concerning the notions of the priesthood of the faithful, the real presence, etc. Among the passages 
which would have had to be corrected and were not, we wish to indicated here, by way of example, 
those referring to: the pronunciation aloud of the words of the consecration, as if it were required by 
their very nature (1); the ambiguities about the notion of “presence” (2); the “Presidential character” of 
the Eucharistic Prayer (3); the relations between the “liturgy of the word” and the “Eucharistic liturgy” 

3. The fact that there have not been made substantial rectifications in the Ordo properly so called 
is especially grave. We would like to call the attention of the reader, in a particular way, to the fact that 
the dispositions which marked a profound and violent break with the ritual tradition of the Catholic 
liturgy continue unaltered. 

4 . Granted that it was resolved to make so many modifications in the Institution to the point of 
altering several dozens of items, it is altogether incomprehensible that that reform of the text has not 
been satisfactory. Abstracting from persons, and considering the question only on the scientific level, 
one cannot fail to foresee that future historians will compare the withdrawal which was made in 1970 
with that which is common to the heresies of every epoch: pressed and refuted by the Catholics, they 
fall back from Arianism to semi-Arianism, from Pelagianism to semi-Pelagianism, from Protestantism to 
Jansenism, etc. (5). 

5 . Even after the modifications which have been introduced, it is still impossible to accept the 
New Mass. There is more. A serene, objective and scientific analysis of the facts reveals that the reform 
undertaken in 1970 resulted in making the errors less evident, without however eliminating them. Thus, 
the doctrinal deviations and ambiguities of the texts become more subtle, and therefore more dangerous. 
Herein lies, then, a new stronger reason impeding faithful Catholics from accepting the new Ordo 

* * * 

In order to avoid misunderstandings which could falsify our position, it is necessary to make it 
very clear that the reservations which we have expressed concerning divers topics of the New Mass are 
not all of the same importance. In the course of our study we have always sought to express the sense 
and the exact extension of each observation which we made. But taken all together these observations 
converge in one direction, with the result that the new texts of the Mass overall merit even graver 
reservations than each part taken by itself. 

* * 

Once more we must declare that we do not assume this position motivated by “contestatarian” 
purposes. We do not question in any sense the principle of authority in the Holy Church. But we ask 
ourselves, it is true, in what measure the very principle of authority, according to the most pure Catholic 
doctrine, obliges us to accept or reject the new liturgy of the Mass . And it was on the basis of these 
presuppositions that we have found ourselves forced to conclude that, for the love of the Church and the 
Faith which we received from our forefathers, we are obliged to say non possumus. 

(1) See p. 17. Commentary on number 12 of the Institutio and pp. 50-51, commentary on the rubric which introduces the narration of the 
Sacred Supper. 

(2) See pp. 7-8. 

(3) See pp. 1 7, commentary on number 1 0 of the Institutio. 

(4) See pp. 21-23. 

(5) See the observation which we make in this respect on pp. 21 ff. - See specially on p. 30 what M. Juqie wrote about Monothelism: “It is 
the heresy-chameleon “par excellence”. In the measure in which it was unmasked and in which it met resistances, it retreated and made 
concessions, in such a fashion, that its point of arrival was in perfect contradiction with its point of departure”. 


In conclusion, we must consider a final reason which is being alleged in defense of the New 
Mass. It is a question of the discourses in which Paul VI is supposed to have affirmed the traditional 
doctrine about the Eucharist. 

Many judge that the Institutio and the Ordo must be interpreted in the light of these pontifical 

However, we do not see how to maintain on the basis of the principles of sound hermeneutics (1) 
that such pronouncements have modified the picture which we have presented in Part I of the present 
study. Indeed, the assertions of a traditional savor which appear in recent discourses of Paul VI are 
juxtaposed to the Institutio and to the Ordo as parallel affirmations, which do not correct that which 
must be considered with reservations (2), rather, on the contrary, they create new motives for perplexity 

( 3 ). 

* * * 

We beseech the Most Holy Virgin that She assist her children in the midst of the tremendous 
storms which, in our days, are causing incalculable harm to souls. And we solemnly appeal to Her that 
She hasten the day in which Her Immaculate Heart will triumph. On that day, the Holy Church will 
appear more radiant than ever, and the Roman Pontificate, the unshakable rock of the Truth will 
illuminate all the nations of the Earth with a new brilliance. 

(1) See pp. 25-27. 

(2) Seep. 37. 

(3) See pp. 26-27.